Phuong and her children.
Local people call her “The most fecund woman of Saigon.”
Phuong has three sons and seven daughters. The eldest was born in 1991. This girl quit school when she was a sixth grade student. She is now a baby sitter.
The youngest child was born in 2010. The remaining eight children are primary-to-college students.
The mother, who is 38 at present, says that she was abandoned at birth. Phuong lived with her adoptive mother, who is also her aunt. She gave up study at the age of 12 to become a peanut seller to support her family.
Phuong got married with Mr. Tu, a porter, when she was only 17, with the hope to build a family of her own.
She had the first child in the same year. After that, she delivered one child every two years, in 1993, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010.
The woman says that she was unable to become sterilized after having the third child because she could not do it. Meanwhile, her body did not accept a coil and she usually forgot to take contraceptives. As a result, she had seven more children.
Some childless couples wanted to adopt Phuong’s children but she did not agree. “I was abandoned when I was a child. I do not want my children to suffer like me,” she says.
Phuong’s husband still works as a porter and earns around VND300,000-400,000 ($14-20) a day. Phuong sells tea and grilled sweet potatoes at her house, earning around VND200,000 ($10) per day. However, their income is unstable.
Phuong says that when they have money, they buy pork and fish for their children, otherwise they feed the children with vegetables and instant noodles. This family is categorized as poor so they enjoy social welfares.
Local officials say that this is a “particular” case.
“Representatives of social organizations visited Phuong to advice her to take contraceptive methods. They even took her to hospital for sterilization for several times but she fled from hospital. Until she had the tenth child, she agreed to take contraceptive measures,” Mr. Nguyen Coi, a local official says. Lan Phuong