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Teenager watches over cemetery of unborn babies

Update: February, 10/2016 - 10:00

The first thought coming to everyone's mind when thinking about holding and burying aborted fetuses is fright. To Nguyen Khac Toan, he turns such frightening feelings into deep sympathy and determination to devote the rest of his life to taking care of the fates of these miserable beings.

Ben Coc cemetery in Ha Noi's Soc Son District, home to as many as 90.000 aborted fetuses. —Photo congly.com.vn

HA NOI (VNS) -- For more than one year, local residents at Thanh Xuan Commune of Ha Noi's Soc Son District have been familiar with the image of a slim 17-year-old boy quietly sitting next to rows of graves, carefully cleaning and finding a place for each flower vase, incense pot and gravestone.

Since he was a small boy and beginning to understand about life, Toan has known that this was not a usual graveyard. Ben Coc cemetery, covering an area of about 600sq.m, is home to as many as 90.000 aborted fetuses.

The embryos, resulting from unexpected pregnancies, are left behind by their parents and were deprived of the right to become human beings.

Toan's childhood was obsessed by the image of his neighbor, Nguyen Thi Nhiem, who collected the fetuses,  wrapped them carefully in small pots and buried them in graves. For ten years she did this job, the number of buried babies has increased, and even now continues to rise.

Toan thinks that the terminated babies are also human beings. When they are not allowed to survive, they need a destination to rest in peace. That humanitarian thought pushes him to saving tragic embryos and following Nhiem's path.

Earlier, Nhiem and Toan's family had not allowed him to care for the cemetery, since he was too young to understand everything. It was not until, more than one year ago, that he could begin working as he wished.

When taking the job, he came to the realisation that love among humans is more precious than anything else.

The first time he, with his own hands, buried an aborted fetus, he recalled that instead of being scared, Toan thought he had helped Nhiem and brought warmth to abandoned fetuses.

Parents' responsibilities raised

"A young man gave me a small package he just picked up on the street pavement and said there was a fetus inside.

Seeing his strange attitude, I guessed that this man was the fetus's father," Toan said.

Sometimes Toan meets parents who have eluded their responsibilities to welcome their babies. Others did not come to the cemetery, but left the fetuses at its gate, leaving the fate of their unborn children in other people's hands.

"Abandoning their own offspring is not far from killing babies by themselves", Toan said.

However, there are responsible parents who usually visit their fetuses' graves, pray and talk to them, even donate money to preserve a place for fetuses to rest in peace.

Yet, the sadness about the fate of fetuses keeps tossing and turning in Toan's mind. Sometimes, he is startled and suddenly wakes up during the night as the image of fetuses obsesses his dreams. The unborn babies call his name and say thank you to him.

These dreams are not frightening, but motivate him to continue his work, he said, as he comes to see fetuses as intimate members of his family.

"Doing what I love and helping underprivileged fates are my dream," he said.

But he is not alone. Toan is more than happy to have met others who share deep empathy and kindness with him.

Every weekend, youth volunteers from the "Protecting Life" group gather students from universities in Ha Noi to visit the cemetery and assist Toan in cleaning the graveyard.

Every day, about 20 to 30 fetuses are delivered to the graveyard, including those from doctors at nearby hospitals and clinics who place aborted fetuses into plastic bags and send them to Toan, in preparation for burial.

Many people, for sure, will frown at the large numbers of aborted fetuses. Toan hopes that the number will be reduced and the fetus graveyard will become a symbol to guide couples to be responsible for their unborn babies.

"Everybody must be responsible for themselves and what they do, and value life, as well," Toan said. — VNS

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