Skip to comments.Vietnam Man Runs 'Abortion Orphanage'
Posted on 03/29/2008 11:16:36 AM PDT by radar101
NHA TRANG, Vietnam (AP) - Sitting cross-legged on a straw mat in the middle of the living room, Tong Phuoc Phuc sings a soothing Vietnamese lullaby. For a moment, his deep voice works magic, and the tiny room crammed with 13 babies is still. Phuc giggles like a proud papa. He's not related to any of them, but without him, many of these children likely would have been aborted. And to Phuc, abortion is unimaginable.
The 41-year-old Catholic from the coastal town of Nha Trang has opened his door to unwed expectant mothers in a country that logs one of the world's highest abortion rates. In 2006, there were more than 114,000 abortions at state hospitals in Ho Chi Minh Cityoutnumbering births.
Most pregnant, unmarried Vietnamese women have few options. Abortion is a welcome choice for many who simply cannot afford to care for a baby or are unwilling to risk being disowned by their families.
The communist government calls premarital sex a "social evil." Abortion, however, is legal and performed at nearly every hospital. And unlike in some Western countries where the issue is hotly contested, the practice stirs little debate here.
But shelters for women who want to keep their babies are rare. Phuc promises them food and a roof until they give birth, and then cares for the children until the mothers can afford to take them. In the past four years, he's taken in 60 kids, with about half still living in his two houses.
"Sometimes we have 10 mothers living here ... sleeping on the floor," says Phuc, a thin man with dark, weathered skin and teeth stained brown from years of smoking. "The problem is that a lot of young people live together and have sex, but they have no knowledge about getting pregnant. So they get abortions."
Phuc says he made a deal with God seven years ago when his wife encountered complications while in labor with their son. He vowed that if they were spared, he would find a way to help others. As his wife lay recuperating after the difficult birth, he recalls seeing many pregnant women going into the delivery room but always leaving alone.
"I was wondering, 'where are the babies?'" he says, cradling an infant in each arm. "Then I realized they had abortions."
Phuc, a building contractor, started saving money to buy a craggy plot of land outside town. He then began collecting unwanted fetuses from hospitals and clinics to bury in graves on the property. At first, doctors and neighbors thought he had gone mad. Even his wife questioned spending their savings to build a cemetery for aborted babies.
But he kept on, and now some 7,000 tiny plots dot the shady hillside, many marked with bright red, pink and yellow artificial roses.
"I believe these fetuses have souls," says Phuc, who has two children of his own. "And I don't want them to be wandering souls."
Vietnam was ranked as having the world's highest abortion rate in a 1999 report by the U.S.-based Guttmacher Institute, which tracks the statistics. More recent reliable data for both public and private clinics are unavailable. Aid agency Pathfinder International says abortions remain high in Vietnam but appear to be declining slightly.
Dr. Vo Thi Kim Loan has run her own clinic just outside Ho Chi Minh City since 1991. She says the number of young, unmarried women seeking quick, discreet abortions has increased with more teen girls having sex before marriage. She also still sees a steady stream of married women coming in for repeat abortions because their husbands disapprove of contraceptives.
Preference for boys is another factor. Vietnamese women with access to ultrasound sometimes terminate pregnancies after discovering they're carrying girls in a country where couples are encouraged to have just two children.
Phuc isn't sure why so many Vietnamese choose abortion and says more women need to understand safer forms of birth control are available.
He says word of his unusual graveyard eventually spread, and women who had undergone abortions started visiting to pray and burn incense. Phuc urged them to tell others considering the same option to talk with him first.
Phan Thi Hong Vu looks lovingly at her chubby 7 1/2-month-old baby boy sucking on a pacifier surrounded by all the other babies on Phuc's floor. She shivers at the thought of how close she came to losing him.
"I actually went to the hospital intending to get an abortion, but I was so scared," says Vu, who was 3 1/2 months pregnant at the time. "I decided to go home and think about it. Two weeks later, I met with Phuc."
She moved into the 904-square-foot house soon after and remains there with seven other new or expectant mothers. They spend their days washing, feeding, burping, changing and playing with the babiesall but one are under a year old. The constant chorus of crying, coughing and cooing fills the living room, which is lined with pink and blue cribs and adorned with a crucifix, the Virgin Mary and a photo of the late Pope John Paul II.
It's a full-time operation that involves Phuc's entire family. His older sister manages the chaos, mixing vats of strained potatoes and carrots and preparing formula for bottles, while shushing crying babies and chasing crawlers. The entrance to the single-level cement house tells the story: rows of bibs, booties, jumpers and spit rags hang drying in the sun.
It costs about $1,800 a month to care for all 33 babies and the women. Phuc gets donations from Catholic and Buddhist organizations and from people who have heard about his work. On a recent day, a local family dropped by with an envelope sent from their daughter in California who had read about Phuc on a Vietnamese Web site. Two years ago, he even got a letter from Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet praising him for caring for women and children scorned by society.
Health authorities say they support what he's doing, but also keep a close eye on him to ensure everything is legitimate in a country where baby selling and child trafficking are a problem. Some people accuse Phuc of condoning premarital sex.
Phuc's operation is not a registered orphanage, which means he cannot put any of the children up for adoption. But even if he could, he shakes his head and says his goal is to reunite each child with its mother or to raise them as his own. So far, 27 babies have gone home.
"I will continue this job until the last breath of my life," he says. "I will encourage my children to take over to help other people who are underprivileged."
A sadly appropriate name.
May God bless that man.
God Bless this man and his family.
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Yes God bless this wonderful man and his family and all the babies and women he is helping! A good cause to support.
“without him, many of these children likely would have been aborted. “
This man is a modern day saint.
He will have a mighty place in God’s kingdom. He is poor, giving all he has to protect human life.
Contrast with Warren Buffet who sends large amounts of money to Planned Parenthood.
“Phuc’s operation is not a registered orphanage, which means he cannot put any of the children up for adoption. But even if he could, he shakes his head and says his goal is to reunite each child with its mother or to raise them as his own. So far, 27 babies have gone home.
“I will continue this job until the last breath of my life,” he says. “I will encourage my children to take over to help other people who are underprivileged.”
I love this nitty-gritty, street level type Christianity.
Where there is life, there is hope.
Pray for this man.
That’s a very ugly statement.
May God bless this man.
God's richest Blessings on this wonderful man. I wonder how donations could safely reach him?
Yes, I was wondering how to get him donations, too. Anyone know?
When I read this, I thought of the character of Sarah Smith in CS Lewis’s book “The Great Divorce”
And only partly do I remember the unbearable beauty of her face.
‘Is it?... Is it? I whispered to my guide.
Not at all, said he. Its someone yell never have heard of. Her name on earth was Sarah Smith and she lived at Golders green.
She seems to be ... well, a person of particular importance?
Aye. She is one of the great ones. Ye have heard that fame in this country and fame on earth are two quite different things.
And who are these gigantic people... look! Theyre like emeralds... who are dancing and throwing flowers before her?
Havent you read Milton? A thousand liveried angels lackey her.
And who are all these young men and women on each side?
They are her sons and daughters.
She must have had a very large family, Sir.
Every young man or boy that met her became her son—even if it is was only the boy that brought meat to her back door. Every girl that met her was her daughter.”
1. Hon Thom Cemetery (top)
2. On a tombstone: ÂFather, mother apologise!Â
3. Nameless tombs, where only numbers (burying day) and abbreviations (the place where unborn children were aborted) exist
This man will become a high-level leader in Vietnam, possibly President.
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This man is emblematic of common courage in the common people of Viet Nam. He and his beliefs will survive the current communist regime and the children he saves will remember what they owe.
Thank you for posting those images. Does anyone have an address where donations may be sent?
This is a beautiful story!
Chilling images of the graves but what a good man.
One man can make a difference...
Blessings on his work.
This mighty servant of the Lord is a shining example. May he light the darkness in Vietnam for all to see.
“I wonder how donations could safely reach him?”
That’s one thing I’d worry about. This man’s operation becomes world famous, and government officials begin seeing it as a cash opportunity, especially corrupt guys on the local level. You know how it goes... no “donation” to the local officials, and your goods don’t get to Mr. Phuc.
We can only pray that God will take care of that.
It is so very obvious that The LOVE Itself works His continuing miracles thru each new life that makes it to the Earth. And those lives that will soon bless the Planet Mars.
Just for the LOVE of it.
God bless this man, who has the heart of the Good Shepherd himself.
>> Abortion is a welcome choice for many who ... are unwilling to risk being disowned by their families.
Better to be disowned than dismembered. I say side with baby-prenatal.
The cemetery is the vivid reminder everyone should witness.
What possibility exists of a similar memorial here in the U.S.?
AMEN! Heavenly Father, rain down blessings up this man and his family that his “cup surely runneth over” in both the physical and spiritual realms!
What a blessing this man is, not only to the orphans, but also to his society and country.
I don't think so. I've searched multiple stories, some posted here, for information on how he receives donations from "Catholic and Buddhist organizations" or otherwise, and found no information at all. I am not even sure if the Catholic organizations are in Vietnam or elsewhere.
I found one reference to a girl sending a donation directly via her parents who hand-delivered it to him, but that is an obvious stretch for probably all of us. Short of contacting the reporters from the various stories who have met him, it may be that the publicity from these recent stories (one made the L.A. Times), may drum up a "grassroots donation train" that would reach him and not be stolen by corrupt officials along the way, as is a fear I had when considering whether I could contact the Vietnamese embassy about him & his orphanage.
A great quote from a wonderful book. More people need to read it!!
Thanks for the ping - wonderful story!
Amen! My 12 year old needs to “nominate” a person (they are looking for someone like Ronald Reagan, Princess Diana, Margaret Thatcher and that level of notoriety) for the subject in an English paper and propose reasons to consider this person for worldwide hero status.
I wish it were about normal, everyday heros like this gentleman, though I reckon his reward will come one day in the eternal life.
Oh my goodness. If you should find an address for donations, PLEASE let me know!!!
Actually, I remember reading about a woman right here on FR if memory serves. I want to say she was in Florida or New York. I’ll see if I can find the story I’m thinking of. No wait...now I’m thinking it mmight have been Palm Springs, California? Is this ringing a bell for anyone?
Just for your edification (and so “a” certain poster is less likely to look the fool):
The S.E. Asians I know, without exception pronounce the “ph” as a “Y”, not the letter you (and I) thought of at first.
Then again, “Yuc” isn’t much better, though far less directly offensive.
Thanks for the ping!
No, he's just picking up the pieces from a culture that encourages women who become pregnant to kill their children.
Could either of you please freepmail me if you find a way to donate to this most worthy cause?
He already has.