Society 18 November 2016 12 871
Phuc Tong has quite an unusual family, multiple adopted kids and they all owe him their lives. This Vietnamese man helps expecting mothers who find themselves in a desperate situation. Being pregnant out of wedlock carries severe social stigma here, bringing shame on a family. Relatives are rarely eager to help and so, left with no support, many women choose to terminate unplanned pregnancies, a story so common in Vietnam that it has Asia’s highest abortion rate.
Phuc Tong hopes to change things, one baby at a time. He gives shelter to pregnant girls with nowhere else to go and tries to convince them to keep their babies. If a woman can’t afford to raise her child, Phuc Tong will take care of the baby until she is able to take on her parental responsibilities, often though, the mothers never return, leaving the child with Phuc Tong, who thinks of all his adoptive children as his own.
Phuc Tong sees taking care of children abandoned by their mothers as his mission in life. Even when he can’t save a baby, he still hopes to save the unborn’s soul. For 12 years, he has buried aborted babies, giving them names that he writes on tombstones in his backyard cemetery. Some doubt the complete selflessness of his charity, others his talents as a foster parent, but these children are living proof that he does make difference.