By Karl Oczkowski
In 1972, at the height of the Vietnam War, few could have imagined just how much a single photograph would change the world’s outlook on one of the most controversial conflicts of the 20th century. It was a photo of Vietnamese children running from a napalm strike, screaming and crying as they ran. The photograph, taken by Nick Ut, went on to win a Pulitzer Prize, and is widely credited with dramatically reducing public support for the Vietnam War.
One of the children in the photograph was nine-year-old Kim Phuc, who can be seen running naked after tearing off her burning clothes. Now, more than 40 years after the photo of Phuc was taken, she is a recognized speaker and advocate, having established the Kim Foundation, which works to support children who are victims of conflict all over the world. On September 23, Phuc will be in Thunder Bay and will be speaking at the Selkirk Auditorium. Phuc’s talk, A Story of Forgiveness and Peace, will detail her long journey following the events of 1972, as well as her transition from fear and despair to a place of hope, freedom and peace in Canada.
“We all have stories, some more difficult than others, but if Kim Phuc, ‘The Girl in the Picture,’ can overcome such tragedy and pain, there is hope that, within each one of us, there is the capacity to move past the pain towards complete fullness in life,” says Eleanor Dunn, board member of Nu-Vision Ministry Canada, the local charity that has helped to coordinate Phuc’s visit to Thunder Bay. “The Thunder Bay community has shown overwhelming generosity of spirit, time, finances, commitment, and compassion to resettle refugee families right here in our midst, in our city. Kim’s message is for everyone in Thunder Bay—from students to seniors. It will inspire all of us to appreciate the overwhelming privilege it is to be Canadian.”
The event will be followed by a breakfast fundraiser the following day at the Airlane Hotel, during which Phuc will also speak. The focus of the breakfast will be Nu-Vision Ministry Canada’s recent trip to Bercy, Haiti, during which volunteers from Thunder Bay worked to build a high school with residential style dorms that will serve 288 orphans and vulnerable children.
Tickets for both events are available at nu-vision.org and ticketleap.com, or by phone at 766-9360.