|History | Ambassador | Testimonials|
Phan Thi Kim Phuc was born and raised in the village of Trang Bang, 30 minutes north of Saigon. During the Vietnam War, the strategic Route 1 that runs through the village became the main supply road between Saigon and Phnom Penh. On June 8, 1972, an American military advisor coordinated the napalm bombing of Kim's village by the South Vietnamese. Nine-year-old Kim fled from a pagoda, where she and her family had been hiding. Two of her infant cousins did not survive the attack, and Kim was badly burned.
Kim Phuc was not expected to live. Third degree burns covered half of her body, and she would require many operations and years of therapy. After two years, against all odds and with the help of doctors who were committed to her care, she was able to return to her village, where she and her family began to rebuild their lives.
In 1982, 10 years after the famous photograph was taken, a German photographer located Kim. In the interim, the Vietnamese Government had subjected her to endless interviews, communist officials had summoned her to Ho Chi Minh City to be used in propaganda films, and Kim had been forced to leave school and move back to her province where, as a "national symbol of war", she was supervised daily.
In 1986, Kim seized the opportunity to study in Cuba, but once again her studies were cut short. She was beset with physical problems, including diabetes, which blurred her vision. While in Cuba, she met a fellow Vietnamese student, Bui Huy Toan. They married in 1992, and spent their honeymoon in Moscow. Returning to Cuba, the couple defected when their plane stopped to refuel in Gander, Newfoundland. They settled in Canada with the help of some Quakers. Her husband, a computer specialist, was able to find employment as a nurse's aid working with the disabled.
In 1996, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund invited Kim to attend the Veterans Day ceremonies at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. Kim spoke to a group of several thousand Vietnam War veterans about her experiences after the napalm attack on her village. She used that opportunity to share with the verterans about how she finally found happiness and freedom after years of pain and suffering; she spoke about pain and suffering. She even met a pilot who coordinated the air strike on her village - she forgave him!
Now Mrs. Kim Phuc lives in the Toronto area of Canada with her husband and two sons, Thomas and Stephen. In 1997 UNESCO named her a Goodwill Ambassador for Peace. She is also an Honorary Member of Kingston Rotary, an Honorary Member of St. Albert Rotary, a member of the Advisory Board for the Wheelchair Foundation, an Honorary Member of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, a Member of the Advisory Board of Free Children's Foundation in Canada, and the World Children's Center in Atlanta Ga., USA. Kim is also a recipient of the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal and the 2004 "Order of Ontario".
"Kim Phuc was recently a featured speaker at Mackenzie University, our travelling institution of continuing education. And to put it mildly, she was a big hit across Canada.
The feedback we received from audience members in all parts of the country closely paralleled my own experience: Kim makes you think about your country and your life -and appreciate both much more.
Given the subject matter, you might think her presentation would be a 'downer'. But, while her life story is an emotional one that tugs at the heartstrings, the impact is intensely and powerfully uplifting.
Kim Phuc isn't a traditional
'motivational speaker'; but her presence and her message are highly motivating
- in all the right ways. I couldn't recommend her more highly."
"The lights go down, the speaker is introduced, the audience goes quiet and a beautiful young lady walks out on the stage. For the next few minutes, this lady keeps the audience so mesmerized with her story that you cannot even hear anyone breathe.
Those of you who have not met Kim Phuc personally cannot possibly know the impact that she has on everyone who meets her. For most of us, the naked little girl running down the street crying is an image of war that will live forever in our memory. However, the horror of war turns to a warm feeling when you listen to Kim speak about her life and how she has overcome the adversities inflicted by napalm on that day so long ago.
The work that Kim does to help other children of war situations is known throughout the world. She has travelled thousands of miles to spread her message, and she has a true commitment to her cause. As an ambassador for her cause, she brings peace and happiness to those she meets and an understanding of forgiveness to all of us. As she says in her speech, she is no longer running, she is flying!
Your spirit will soar also as you hear Kim's moving message of her life and how she has overcome many adversities to be one of the most recognized and respected young women in the world today."
"I was amazed at Kim's attitude. I'm sure that I have never met anyone who has gone through such trauma, at such an early age, and come out so totally positive and forgiving. Her presentation reassured me about the strength that we all possess. When we mix this element with the power of love and forgiveness, miracles can happen."
"Kim's presentation at the Royal Canadian Military Institute was very well received. She told her story of 'The Girl in the Picture' in a quiet, dignified and very vivid manner. It touched all in attendance about the horror and waste of those terrible times in her country. Considerable emotion was visible in that audience, many of whom are veterans. I thanked Kim for her message and her time with us. As a veteran of WW2 and the Normandy invasion I commented that Kim went through much more than many of us at that time."
"When I heard that Kim was coming I saved up my money for a ticket, I got up early and drove in miles to see and hear her speak. Listening to her message was something I will never forget. She is an inspiration for all of us who heard her speak to that large and attentive crowd."
Comment from a ticket holder at a sold out presentation at Unique Lives and Experiences in Denver USA
"I was really pleased to meet Kim and hear her moving message. I remember that historic photograph. Her presence and comments were one of the most memorable things that I took away from our International Conference."
Convention delegate from Uganda
"You came to Dartmouth and Halifax to tell people your life story. Everyone in that packed stadium was touched by your presence. I had seen your famous picture in various places over the years but had not taken much real notice. Recently I realized that one of the strongest thoughts I had whenever I saw it was: 'who will take care of that little girl?' It created a feeling of helplessness and powerlessness. Your painful journey through life and to Canada coupled with your Christian message of forgiveness was an inspiration to all who heard and met you that memorable evening."
Ed Smallhorn Nova Scotia - Canada
"As I watched the presentation, it seemed as though time stood still. The little girl in that famous picture has turned her life into an incredible success story. Her passion remains in the soft yet serious tone of her voice. These pictures need no description. For many of us, the horror of war has not been felt personally. It is difficult to imagine the despair anyone would feel. As a child trapped in war, Kim has found a way to survive and prosper. Her story should encourage us all to look out for the most innocent of all victims of war·children."
"It is always an honor to be in the company of Kim. She is an extraordinary woman with an extraordinary story. "Kim's Story" is one of tragedy, strength, and forgiveness and each of those elements is reflected in Kim's warm and caring attitude. The image portrayed in the famous photo of Kim is forever etched in our minds and our hearts. Likewise, Kim's message of helping others, especially innocent children, is one that truly inspires me."
"What strikes me the most about Kim is her ability to move past all that she has gone through in order to derive a positive message from so much pain. As a child Kim was severely injured by an attack that she had no part in inciting. However, upon meeting Kim it is clear that she holds no resentment, only love. Kim is truly concerned for those who suffer as she did and has dedicated herself to helping them. She is an exceptional woman with an incredible message of love and forgiveness."
Governor Corrine Wood
"Through the alliance between The Kim Foundation International and Save The Children I have had the pleasure of meeting with Kim. She is an outstanding woman who lacks nothing in the areas of courage, kindness, and charity. Despite her own suffering, she never seems to focus on herself; rather, she has taken every opportunity to help others. I am truly proud to be working with her and her Foundation."
"Shortly after the fall of the Communist block, I spent more than one year coordinating a Doctors of the World project in Romania. Along with our Romanian colleagues, and thanks to a partnership forged between several universities, contributors, and public authorities, we evaluated the health and the educational psychological and social situation of institutionalized children. Needless to say, we visited some of the dark areas of the totalitarian system, which reminded us of the sheer tragedy of removing a child from his or her natural environment because of family and social problems that cause physical or spiritual suffering . More importantly, in cooperation with many Romanian and international players, we had the opportunity to participate in the overhaul of Romania's child and family protection system. The mission of Doctors of the World Canada is to support the Romanian professionals at the Counselling Centre for the Bucharest Children's Foundation, with the assistance of the Kim International Foundation. This mission relies heavily on the belief that the people who have suffered from institutionalized violence, as well as the authorities and professionals, are open to change."