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Kim Phuc Phan Thi

Advocate For Victims of War Crimes
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Biography

The Vietnam War knows many tragedies, some more familiar than others. A photograph of a young girl running naked down a road, her skin on fire with napalm, changed the way the world looked at the Vietnam War, and at all wars. The photograph was transmitted around the world and later won a Pulitzer Prize. The girl in the picture is Kim Phuc.

Phan Thi Kim Phuc was born and raised in a village near Saigon. In 1972, Americans and the South Vietnamese Airforce dropped napalm bombs on her village. Nine-year-old Phuc fled from a Buddhist pagoda, where she and her family were hiding. Two of her infant cousins did not survive the attack, and Phuc was badly burned. Phuc was photographed running down the road, screaming from the burns to her skin. Ut’s photograph of Phuc remains one of the most unforgettable images of the Vietnam War.

Phuc was not expected to live. After two years, however, with the help of doctors who were committed to her care, she was able to return to her village and her family began to rebuild their lives. During the following years, the government subjected her to endless interviews and officials summoned her to Ho Chi Minh City to be used in propaganda films. Phuc had been forced to quit school and move back to her province, where she was supervised daily as a “national symbol of war.”

In 1986, Phuc was sent to study in Cuba and eventually settled in Canada. When Vietnam veterans invited her to participate at a service in Washington, as part of a Veteran's Day observance, Phuc shared her experience to help others heal from the pain of war. While there, she spoke face to face with a veteran involved in dropping the bombs on that day in 1972, and forgave him.

Phuc’s incredible story was turned into a book called The Girl in the Picture and a documentary called Kim’s Story: The Road from Vietnam.

In light of Phuc’s struggle, she established a foundation to further heal the wounds of war. The Kim Foundation International is a nonprofit organization committed to funding programs to heal children in war torn areas of the world. It is named for Phuc, who wants to give back what so many gave to her to contribute to her healing. In 1997 UNESCO named her a Goodwill Ambassador.

Topics

The Kim Foundation International

The Girl in the Picture

Family: A Celebration of Humanity

Love, Hope and Forgiveness

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