2017 Focus On Life Keynote Speaker: Dr. Kim Phúc Phan Thi

You may not recognize Kim Phúc, but you've probably seen her before.  On June 8, 1972, when Kim was 9 years old, she suffered severe burns from a napalm attack on her village in Vietnam.

Associated Press photographer, Nick Ut, captured the moment in this horrific photograph, which later won a Pulitzer Prize.


After snapping this image, Nick Ut took Kim and the other injured children to a hospital in Saigon, where it was determined that her burns were so severe that she probably would not live. Kim survived. She endured a 14-month hospital stay and 17 surgical procedures.

Kim went on to study medicine, but while she was a med student, Kim was removed from her university and used as a propaganda symbol by the communist government of Vietnam.

In 1992, Kim was granted permission to continue her studies in Cuba, where she met and married her husband.  Traveling to Moscow on their honeymoon, Kim and her husband escaped the plane during a refueling stop in Newfoundland and sought political asylum in Canada, which was granted.

Kim has established numerous charities providing medical and psychological assistance to child victims of war throughout the world. For more than 22 years, Kim has been serving as an UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.  Internationally, Kim is communicating a message of dialogue and reconciliation to replace confrontation and violence as a means of settling conflicts.