HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — We have tough moments.  Boun Lod has had a tough lifetime, but she’s not letting that get her down.

“I always think back to when I was a kid, how I was treated. I can’t believe how I got through it ’til today,” Boun said. “Last night, I was thinking, ‘How did I make it this far?’ I don’t know how.”

To tell her story, let’s begin with her given name: Vilayvanh Phanhvanh. She was born in Laos in southeast Asia.

“Back when I was 12 days old, I was in a house fire,” she said. “Nothing else was burned except me. The mattress and everything else is still the same. My parents still use the same mattress from that day.”

12-day-old Boun was lying on the mattress when the mosquito netting above it caught fire and fell onto her, severely burning her. That’s where, Boun Lod, her other name comes from. It’s Laotian for “Miracle Survivor.” You see that the minute you meet Boun.

“People tell my parents to just kill me when I was an infant because I was disabled…and my parents choose not to, and look where I am, now,” she said.

But that was quite a journey. She came to the United States after a Canadian couple that was traveling through Laos met her and saw she needed help. They paid for her to come to the US for treatment. After a series of treatments, Boun realized she needed to live here and came to High Point where her father’s cousin and his wife lived. Still, it was a lonely life for the girl who didn’t look like everyone else.

“When I was in eighth grade, I was so surprised that somebody around my age came and talked to me,” Boun said. “It was such a new experience, and I was like, ‘Woah. They’re not scared of me. They’re not running away from me.’”

That “somebody” was Reilly Williams, a senior at High Point Central High School.

“She recognized that Boun needed a friend, and she stepped in and kind of took her under her wing,” said Reilly’s mother Meredith Williams. “Just look around…Who needs help?  Who needs just a little thing? That’s what Reilly taught me.”

Boun made the varsity soccer team as a freshman, and that’s where her relationship with Reilly really blossomed. Boun is now preparing to rejoin Reilly, who is a senior at Appalachian State University. Boun Lod plans to major in either political science or psychology because they are disciplines that she believes she can use to help others who are like her.

She can do that now because of a second “angel” in her life (Reilly being the first). That second angel is professional photographer Kelli Gowdy who did a series of senior portraits for Boun that made her finally see the beauty she radiates. 

Now that she understands the value she has as a person, Boun wants others who may doubt that they are also people worthy of love and friendship who need to appreciate who they are.

“I want to prove a point to people that just because you have a bit of flaw on your skin and whatnot, doesn’t make you any different than people who look like they have flawless skin,” Boun said. “You’re still pretty…your scar, your pimple…still makes you what you are.”

See more from Boun in this edition of the Buckley Report.