A destitute mother has turned herself in to police after a decade on the run, despite the threat of deportation, in the hope that her daughter will receive a government-school education.
The 48-year-old Vietnamese woman, nicknamed A-shui (阿水), fled her Taiwanese employer about 10 months after she began work in 2003.
She began a romantic relationship with a 58-year-old Taiwanese widower, surnamed Chung (鍾), in 2005 and became pregnant a year later.
The two never married.
She gave birth to a girl, nicknamed Ling Ling (玲玲), in 2007.
Raising a newborn was not easy for Chung, who said he had been unemployed for years because of his age and failing health caused by diabetes.
His only source of income was a monthly government subsidy of NT$5,000 for underprivileged people, he said.
The couple hit rock bottom about 18 months ago, at which time they took shelter in Chung’s family tomb in Taoyuan County’s Longtan Township (龍潭) along with their daughter because they could no longer afford basic living expenses.
They drank water from a nearby well, burnt twigs to keep themselves warm and used plastic bags as curtains.
A-shui said what saddened her more than their living conditions was that she was unable to register her daughter’s birth because she was a “runaway foreign worker” and was not married to Chung.
A-shui said she spent most of her time teaching Ling Ling the Chinese phonetic symbol system, the English alphabet, multiplication tables and some basic Vietnamese because she was afraid the girl would fall behind on her education.
A-shui said she turned herself in to police, even if it meant being deported, because she could not continue to homeschool her daughter.
“I am willing to be sent back to Vietnam and suffer the pain of not being able to see my daughter if doing so allows her to go to school and live a normal life,” A-shui said after telling her story to police.
When officers visited the trio’s “home,” Ling Ling told them that “she never felt scared at night because at least she was able to stay with her daddy and mommy,” police said.
The Taoyuan County Government’s Social Welfare Bureau has arranged temporary accommodation for Chung and Ling Ling.
The National Immigration Agency’s Taoyuan County Specialized Operation Brigade said Ling Ling would be granted Republic of China (ROC) citizenship if DNA tests confirmed her biological relationship to Chung, otherwise she could also face deportation to Vietnam.
As for A-shui, she would be allowed to return to Taiwan provided that Chung was willing to marry her and if she did not have any unsolved marital matters in Vietnam.
Police said that they raised NT$10,000 to help A-shui pay a fine for overstaying her visa and purchase a plane ticket to Vietnam.