Burying fetuses, saving unwanted babies: One man's quest

Thanh Nien News

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Tong Phuoc Phuc put incense sticks at the tombs of fetuses he brought home from hospitals and clinics in Khanh Hoa Province. Photo credit: Zing Tong Phuoc Phuc put incense sticks at the tombs of fetuses he brought home from hospitals and clinics in Khanh Hoa Province. Photo credit: Zing

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Tong Phuoc Phuc has built thousands of tombs for aborted babies and taken care of 35 women who agreed to keep their babies and more than 100 children abandoned at birth.
The man, who is around 60, brought the first fetus home in 2001 after he saw it dumped by a tree in a hospital where his wife was delivering their own baby in the central province of Khanh Hoa.
Phuc says he also saw many girls waiting in line to have an abortion there.
“I do this because I think of those children who are alive and can enjoy all the fun, going to school and eating candies and cakes.
“These kids have lost that privilege. At least I can give them a tomb,” he says while putting sand over the pot of a fetus to build another tomb in his backyard.
“Young women can look at this so they stop doing things that lead to this.”
Phuc, a builder whose wife runs a small shop, has built tombs of 40 square centimeters each for around 11,000 fetuses, most of around three months old, and he continues to go to local hospitals and clinics every night to fetch more home.
A local pagoda recently agreed to keep an eye on his tombs after Phuc spent VND45 million (US$2,000) to buy 11,000 square meters of land to build more.
Phuc says many women seeking abortions are desperate. One young girl came to him and said that her parents forced her to abort.
“She cried a lot.”
There were days in 2006 and 2007 when he brought home as many as 30 fetuses. Then he decided that he would not just clean the mess.
“I tried every way to meet women who planned to end their pregnancy, and I persuaded them not to. Some listened to me.”
To be precise, 35 did, including five who are still living in the house he built just for them. He and his wife took care of them until their babies were six months old.

It costs him VND100 million ($4,466) a month to take care of the pregnant women and abandoned children, and so he raises pigs and chicken to supplement the income from his construction jobs. Donations also help.

“If they still cannot fend for themselves after that, they can stay back. There’s no problem.”
Two clay pots carrying the fetuses he picked up on August 10, 2015, at a local hospital. He is going to put headstones for them with their names “Paolo” and “Maria,” which are local transcriptions of Christian Saint Paul and the Virgin Mary. 
These large tombs were built by the babies’ parents after they learned about Phuc’s work and came to the place. They never know exactly which one their baby is and so pick up any pot and build a tomb for it, giving the baby a name.
 The other tombs have a holy name with a number that indicates the date Phuc got them from local clinics and hospitals.
Three of the women who agreed to keep their babies with his support. One of the women was abandoned by her boyfriend after she became pregnant. Another was too afraid to tell her parents and so hid in Phuc’s house.
 He has opened a charity shelter to take care of children abandoned after birth. Now 18 are staying with him after he sent more than 30 older ones to a public orphanage in the province and more than 50 others have been taken back by their mothers in emotional reunions. Volunteers come to teach children of kindergarten age while older ones are all sent to school.
You can find the original Vietnamese story here on Zing.

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