Kim Phúc, immortalized as one of the children in a photograph of an American napalm attack during the Vietnam War, gave a presentation entitled “I Crave Justice: A Story of Faith and Forgiveness,” Monday at McGill. The talk was organized by McGill’s branch of Campus for Christ.
Before a crowded audience in Leacock 132, Phúc explained how the iconic image of war impacted her life, and how she finally forgave those who conducted the air strike on her village.
“I’ve learned to accept what happened to me, and move on to reach out and help others. That is my point, not politics. I’ve learned how to control my photo.”
Phúc is outspoken about her devotion to Christianity, but insists that her mission is to speak about how she found solace, rather than to promote her religion.
“I don’t want to advise people to commit to my God,” Phúc said. “I believe in Jesus Christ and I just want to share what happened to that little girl. I want people to have free will and see how they can have happiness, freedom, and peace.”
Phúc is currently a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and has founded numerous hospitals and shelters for children affected by war through a secular, non-profit organization called the Kim Phúc Foundation International.
The organization is currently building a health center in Ongutoi, Uganda. Phúc spends most of her time travelling and working on behalf of her foundation.
The McGill event’s organizers requested that all questions directed at Phúc remain apolitical. According to Andrew Williamson, a representative of Campus for Christ, Phúc’s capacity for forgiveness is the primary message the organization wishes to convey, rather than focusing on the photograph’s historical and political significance.
“Politics aren’t a big part of it,” said Williamson. “It’s really important to talk about Kim’s story and the role that her faith played in her ability to forgive.”