Life in Central Vietnam with 14 kids

Thanh Nien News

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A family in the central province of Quang Nam is famous for its easy-going attitude, despite the fact that they have 16 mouths to feed, according to a Tuoi Tre report

The large home, located in the Ba Huong commune in Bac Tra My District’s Tra Dong ward, is clean and tidy, and every child had his or her own room.

Villagers laughed when being asked the way
“You're going there just to see the crowd of kids, aren’t you?”
Standing in the front yard is Huynh Thi Lac, the hard-working mother of 14.
Her oldest two have married and moved out; her youngest is only 14 months old.

The 45-year-old mother seemed at ease cradling her youngest daughter in one hand while the kid’s older sister, 3, followed her in and out the house, said the report in Tuoi Tre's weekend magazine.

“He [the father] and the older kids work outside," said Lac, referring to her husband -- who is three years her junior. "I stay at home doing housework.” 

At 10 a.m., the fifth child, an 18-year old girl, returns from the fields to help her mother cook for the whole family while her buffaloes bathe in a nearby river.

One hour later, Do Ngoc Nam, the patriarch, and his 17 year-old son wander in from the family's acacia field. Soon afterward, his six other children file in, one by one, from school.

Aside from the two oldest daughters, who moved to live with their spouses, another two sons have taken jobs (a mechanic and a mason) in nearby Tra My town.   

Nam didn't think much of having six daughters and eight sons, since all of the children were smoothly born and raised.

“Childbirth was so easy for my wife,” he said proudly. The first five kids were delivered at home with the help of the village midwife.

After the woman finished cutting the umbilical cord, he took care of the rest.

When Lac was about to have her sixth child, local officers forced him to bring his wife to the ward infirmary. She only had three kids there, before delivering the next six children at home.
“Her deliveries were as easy as anything could be,” he said with a smile.
None of his children have ever seen the inside of a hospital.
“It’s better [having] more people than trees, my father used to say. He always felt sad that he only had two children, me and my little sister. In this mountainous land, it's so hard to get anything done without enough labor,” Nam said.

When the tenth kid was born ten years ago, the couple built their first house with VND40 million they had saved from farming and selling.

"I never forget the day we bought a female buffalo. Other villagers praised us for buying a buffalo so soon after building our house," recalled Lac. "A female buffalo costs VND20 million (nearly US$1,000) now!"

In 2011, the couple intended to sell some of their buffaloes (which had grown into an impressive herd) to buy more land to grow rice and maintain a stable food source for the big family.

"There were so many mouths to feed in my house that in the previous lean years, we didn't have enough to go around."

The continued acquiring land until they produced enough rice to feed the whole family.

"Now we sell nearly one ton of unhusked rice every year," said the father, who now has 1.5 hectares of paddy field, and another hectare of forest in the mountainous area of Quang Nam.

In 2010, the couple once again surprised their neighbors by building a VND30 million house in the nearby village of Phuong Dong to be closer to their fields.

"It was a place to store the harvested rice and corn."

One year later, the couple began to raise a herd of pigs.

Though he's always had a big family to feed, Nam has given parts of his harvest to his mother for ten years now.  "What did we have so many [children] for, if we even can't take care of our mothers?"

Commune head Le Quang Du said that local officers advised the couple to use birth control methods, but they just kept having kids.

"They always said it was by mistake," Du said. "What could we do? They are very smart and laborious farmers; they raised their family quite well and never asked for a handout. All of the children are very well-behaved."

At 2 p.m., Nam’s 18-year old daughter returned to the river to take her buffaloes to pasture. Nam and his 17-year old son also returned to the fields.

The other kids, some of them teenagers, played in the front yard. Unlike most other families in the hard-scrabble farming community, they had time for play.

"We don’t want to have our kids work too early. That‘s why we try to work: to let them enjoy their childhood," said Lac, quoting her husband.

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