Pham Thi Cuong, 74, is doing what so many in Vietnam refuse to do — care for little babies who die before birth in abortions. A new story profiles her work, finding and burying more than 4,000 unwanted babies who have been killed.
Pham Thi Cuong, 74, whose hair is silver and who has trouble breathing, pedals around ten kilometers each day on her bicycle searching for disregarded embryos from abortion procedures, and in some cases, the little bodies of babies who had been born and abandoned.
Many of them are put into plastic bags and thrown onto the sidewalk where they become prey for insects and other animals, making it difficult to identify them, she told news website VnExpress in a Thursday report. Cuong cleans them and holds them to make them feel warm. Then she covers them cloth and places them in small jars, reciting prayers before giving them burials at a local public cemetery.
The woman said after ten years, she is still haunted by the first experience which made her decide to make the grim task a regular part of her life.
“Its body was black and blue and there were ants all over it. Such a painful sight,” she told VnExpress.
Cuong said she was going to the market to sell some vegetables and saw a black plastic bag on the sidewalk surrounded by flies and bugs, the sight of which made her nauseous.
“There was something moving inside and I just figured a family had thrown out their dead animals, so I just kept going. But then I didn’t feel right and felt the urge to go back.
“I was startled to find a newborn infant breathing with difficulty when I unfolded the bag.”
Cuong took the baby around the neighborhood in search of a new mother capable of feeding it with breast milk, but the baby died before she managed to find one.
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This courageous and heart-wrenching story reminds of another one from earlier this year.
A Chinese woman has become a local hero thanks in part to her work finding and raising babies she has found abandoned on the streets of Jinhua, where she lives. Lou Xiaoying is an 88-year-old woman suffering from kidney failure who has found the abandoned infants and children — some of them who were left in the trash.
She has her husband, who passed away 17 years ago, kept four of the children to raise and placed the others with loving families.