01/11/2014, 00.00
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Iruan's story: country embraces young man who lost his parents

by Xin Yage
Born to a Brazilian mother and a Taiwanese father, the young man is back in Taiwan after losing his family in South America. Through the efforts of the Taiwan Catholic Mission Foundation, he was able to close a long chapter in his life. He can always come "when he wants to visit the place where his Dad is buried."

Taipei (AsiaNews) - After an absence of ten years, a litany of misfortunes and countless legal problems, a young man born to a Brazilian mother and a Taiwanese father was able to return to the island to pray at the grave of his father, who died in 2001. Through the Taiwan Catholic Mission Foundation, he was able to overcome many hurdles in a story that has touched the country. Iruan (吴 忆 桦) was born in Brazil 18 years ago, but sadly, his mother died when he was only three years old. His maternal grandmother then took him in to care for him.

In 2001, he travelled to Taiwan with his father on a short trip, but the latter was struck down by a heart attack after two weeks. His paternal uncle tried to gain custody of the child, but eventually, after a long legal battle, lost in 2004, when a Taiwanese court recognised the boy's maternal grandmother in Brazil as his legal guardian. When she fell ill, a German couple living in Brazil adopted Iruan five years ago. The grandmother passed away in late 2013. Iruan was able to come back to Taiwan mainly thanks to help provided by the Taiwan Catholic Mission Foundation (天主教 博爱 基金会), which took care of all the red tape, put in touch biological and adoptive families, and got Taiwan's  Foreign Affairs Ministry to sponsor the trip.

Foundation president Mr Ou (欧 晋 仁) feels very much involved in this meeting, which comes after many years of absence. For him, "It is important that Iruan visit his father's grave, be with his uncle's family for a period of time and nurture family relations that marked three years of his childhood in Taiwan. For the Catholic community, making this meeting possible is important for two reasons: Because we believe that maintaining relations can improve the understanding between families and because it can help Iruan remember the important period of time he spent here when he was not yet grown up. As a Christian, I believe that working for reconciliation is always the most important thing."

The day after he arrived, Iruan not only met his family but also his old friends from the neighbourhood. Despite losing his parents, he has found serenity in Brazil and with his Taiwanese relatives. Here, "He can always fell at home," said his uncle, moved by the reunion. "The doors will always be open for him when he wants to visit the place where his Dad is buried."

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