Phan Thi Kim Phuc was photographed naked, terrified, and in anguish moments after having her clothes burned off in an attack when she was 9 years old in 1972. Thereafter, she became known as "the napalm girl" from the Vietnam War.
In a new interview, she gives a powerful testimony on how she went from the verge of suicide to living a life where her "enemies list" became her "prayer list."
What are the details?
Phuc sat down with CBC Docs for their "Brief but Spectacular" series, and described the path of how she went from bitterness to forgiveness.
"I remember June 8, 1972," she begins. "I saw the airplane and it's so loud, so close to me. Suddenly, the fire everywhere around me."
"The fire burned off my clothes, and I saw my arm got burned with the fire," Phuc said, describing the immediate moments after the attack. "I thought, 'Oh my goodness, I get burned, people will see me a different way.'"
"Nine years old, I became a victim of war," Phuc continued. Describing how she initially felt about the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of her, she said, "I didn't like that picture at all. I felt like, 'Why he took my picture when I was in agony, naked, so ugly?' I wished that picture wasn't taken."
Phuc went on to explain she went through 17 operations after being hit with napalm, and described the pain she endured.
"It built me up with hatred, anger, bitterness," she said, asking, "Why me? Why that happened to me?"
What happened next?
"In 1982, I wanted to take my life," Phuc continued. "Because I thought, after I die, no more suffering, no more pain." But "eventually," she said, "I found the new testament in the library in Saigon."
That same year, she became a Christian.
Phuc says her faith changed everything. "My enemies list became my prayer list," she told CBC. "I forgive everyone who caused my suffering. Even the pilot, commander, people controlling me."
The author and activist now works with children and has built an orphanage and a school. "Now," she says, when she looks at the iconic photo of her as a little girl. "I am so thankful."
This is a clip you will want to watch to the end.
"I was in agony. Naked. So ugly. I wish that picture wasn’t taken." Phan Thị Kim Phúc’s life changed forever when s… https://t.co/JsJwsJA82j— CBC Docs (@CBC Docs)1579146180.0