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Focus On Life dinner to host human rights ambassador

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Gala to feature Vietnamese napalm-attack survivor
By Josh Tng

Photo caption: Carrie Davidson, executive director of Signal Hill.

The year is 1972. As arid smoke billows from the burning village of Trang Bang, South Vietnam, a nine-year-old girl flees down a road amidst fellow fleeing villagers. She is naked and covered with napalm burns.

Almost 50 years later, Dr. Phan Thi Kim Phúc, war survivor and human rights ambassador, will speak on her survival as the featured speaker for the 19th Annual Focus on Life Gala Dinner May 15.

“Kim Phúc is going to share her story and the impact she personally felt in this situation where life wasn’t valued,” said Carrie Davidson, executive director of Signal Hill. “She will speak on how she came out of that situation, and what she’s doing now to help fellow victims of war.”

Kim Phúc was wounded by the napalm bombing when a South Vietnamese Air Force pilot mistook her and her travel companions for enemy soldiers. Two of her cousins were killed along with two other villagers. She suffered from severe burns, only surviving after a 14-month hospital stay and 17 surgical procedures.

“She really will be speaking from where the heart of this gala is,” Davidson said. The annual dinner, organized by the Archdiocese of Vancouver, Signal Hill, and the Christian Advocacy Society of Greater Vancouver, is themed Joy From the Unexpected, which Kim Phúc will address in her testimony.

“We are all looking forward to hearing from Kim,” said Davidson. “I haven’t personally heard her story, so to hear her heart on the matter is so important to all of us.”

Proceeds from the event go directly towards “life affirming media initiatives and media channels directing people in crisis to our community services,” said Davidson. Media projects will be highlighted during the gala, as well as the impact such projects have.

Special guests will include Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB; Dan Loney from Focus on the Family Canada; and Coquitlam Alliance Church’s Pastor Michelle Hartt.

The gala will be held at the Italian Cultural Centre. Tickets are available for $75 at 604-532-0023 or at


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