Custody-battle child to visit from Brazil

TORN BETWEEN NATIONS::Taiwanese-Brazilian Wu Yi-hua is to return to meet the relatives he has not seen since his Brazilian grandmother was awarded custody

Staff writer, with CNA

Wed, Nov 06, 2013 - Page 4

Iruan Ergui Wu, the Taiwanese-Brazilian boy at the center of an intense custody battle that tore him between the two countries nearly a decade ago, plans to visit Taiwan to see his relatives.

Austin Ou (歐晉仁), executive director of the Taiwan Catholic Mission Foundation, yesterday said that his organization is arranging for the 18-year-old and his foster parents, German nationals living in Brazil, to stay in Taiwan for about 20 days.

Wu, better known in Taiwan by his Chinese name Wu Yi-hua (吳憶樺), will be reunited with relatives whom he has not seen since 2004, when a Taiwanese court granted custody to his maternal grandmother in Brazil following the separate deaths of both his parents.

Now a young adult, Wu is looking forward to seeing his aunt and cousins, and reuniting with elementary-school classmates from his few years of living in Taiwan, Ou said.

Wu will also visit several local schools as an “education ambassador” for the foundation.

Ou said he has followed developments in Wu’s life closely after the boy returned to Brazil, the country of his birth, and has offered encouragement to the boy and incentives for good grades — including this upcoming trip to Taiwan.

He said he has visited the boy twice each year since his return to Brazil, and despite the ups and downs in Wu’s life over the past decade, he is sure that there are no hard feelings over the past, just love for his family members on the other side of the world.

However, Wu’s uncle and his family said that they “have not been notified of Wu Yi-hua’s return.”

They have had absolutely no communication with him since he left Taiwan with his maternal grandmother, they said.

Ou’s foundation is now raising funds to sponsor the trip, which is expected to take place sometime after Christmas or early next year.

Ou said the goal is to raise NT$1.5 million (US$51,000), more than NT$600,000 of which will go to travel expenses for Wu and his foster parents. The rest is meant to fund a computer center at the Brazilian elementary school where Wu studied.

Wu’s father, Wu Teng-shu (吳登樹), was a fisherman from -Jiading (茄萣), today a district of Greater Kaohsiung. The elder Wu met a woman in Brazil, but set sail again shortly after she gave birth to their son in May 1995.

Three years later, Iruan’s grandmother, Rosa Leocadia DaSilva Ergui, was awarded custody after his mother died of cancer.

In 2001, Wu Teng-shu took the young boy to Taiwan to visit family, but when the father died two weeks later from a heart attack, uncle Wu Huo-yen (吳火眼) decided to keep the boy in then-Kaohsiung.

DaSilva Ergui later came to Taiwan to bring the boy back to Brazil, marking the beginning of lengthy court proceedings that lasted more than two years, before the Taiwan High Court ruled in her favor.

When Iruan was taken from his uncle’s home on Feb. 10, 2004, clashes erupted when the nine-year-old’s relatives resisted the police.

Wu was adopted by a German couple afterward because his grandmother’s physical health was too poor to care for him.

Then a pudgy, but endearing child, Wu has now grown into a handsome, 1.73m tall young man, Ou said.