“Little Ma” (小馬), a seven-year-old Amis boy who was abandoned in northern Thailand by his mother almost three years ago, returned to Taiwan yesterday and was greeted by family members at Taitung County’s Feng Nian Airport.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has previously said the boy’s mother took him along when she went to Thailand to reunite with her Thai boyfriend in March 2010. She returned to Taiwan after her Thai visa expired, but without her son, who ended up being taken care of by Akha hilltribe people in Chiang Rai Province.
The boy’s mother was found to have mental issues after returning home to Taitung and later moved to Hsinchu to stay with her mother. The boy’s grandfather and local community have said they would like him to stay in Taitung.
The story of Little Ma’s abandonment was discovered by accident when Ai Ying-chang (艾應昌), a minister with the Ditmanson Medical Foundation Chiayi Christian Hospital, was in Thailand on an evangelical mission last fall.
Athough the mother’s side of the family have said they wanted to take care of the youngster, the Hsinchu County and Taitung County governments feel it would place a heavy burden on them.
Hsinchu officials say Little Ma’s mother, grandmother and uncle are living in a metal shack in Jhudong Township (竹東), the uncle only has part-time employment at a construction site and the mother is still unstable.
Some of the uncle’s colleagues have helped with looking after the boy’s mother and grandmother while the uncle is at work and the Hsinchu County Government was concerned that the boy would be a financial burden on the family.
The Taitung County Government’s social welfare department said that it would make a further assessment of the uncle’s ability to care for Little Ma, but it was inclined to put him with a foster family first so he could learn both Mandarin Chinese and Amis.
The uncle said there were plans for a family reunion in Taitung ahead of the Lunar New Year.