Vietnam maid’s Taiwan boss is her long-lost father
Hong Kong Herald
Tuesday 22nd January, 2008
A Vietnamese woman who came to Taiwan to work as a maid and to search for her Taiwanese father has been reunited with him in a human drama story bordering on a miracle.
All of Taiwan’s newspapers on Tuesday reported how Tran Thi Kham, 40, was recently reunited with her father Tsai Han-chao, 77, who could hardly believe what had happened: ‘I can only say: This is fate.’
The story goes back to 1967 when Tsai, then a 36-year-old businessman, took a business trip to Hong Kong and fell in love with Ah Hua, a Vietnamese girl working as a shop assistant at a Hong Kong department store.
Though already married, Tsai fell in love with Ah Hua and gave her his photo and a gold ring. The affair was short-lived as Tsai returned to Taiwan and Ah Hua returned to North Vietnam to care for her sick mother.
In Vietnam, Ah Hua gave birth to a girl, Tran Thi Kham, but died when Tran was two months old, leaving behind only a photo of Tran Tsai and a gold ring.
Tran was raised by Ah Hua’s elder sister. When Tran got married at 21, the aunt told Tran about her father. In 2004 Tran, leaving behind an abusive husband and two grown children, came to work in Taiwan and to search for her father.
Tran brought with her Tsai’s photo and the gold ring but did not know where to start her search. But as if arranged by fate, her first employer – unknown to her at the time – was her father Tsai, who had applied for a foreign maid to care for his paralysed wife.
Tran cared for Mrs Tsai for seven months until she died, never knowing Tsai was her father and Tsai’s six children were her half-brothers and sisters.
‘I never talked to her about Vietnam or Ah Hua because it was long time ago and I did not know Ah Hua had become pregnant,’ Tsai said, peeking at old photos at his home in Sanchung near Taipei, where he lives alone.
Tsai’s feelings are complicated by his recollection about Tran’s mother Ah Hua, recalling now that he had liked her then, but that the affair had been just a fling.
‘I met her only twice and never contacted her afterwards. Neither did she contact me. How could I know she became pregnant?’ he mused.
After Mrs Tsai had died, Tran moved to work for another employer on Taiwan’s offshore island Kinmen, and then other employers there.
Recently Tran noticed that she had lost her parcel containing Tsai’s photo and the ring. She suspected she had left it at Tsai’s home, so she asked Kinmen police to phone Tsai to check.
‘I checked my wife’s cabinet and saw the parcel and opened it to see what was inside. When I saw my photo and the ring, I nearly fainted,’ Tsai said, in a slow and weak voice.
‘I called back the Kinmen police to tell them it was my photo and ring in the packet. They said it was too complicated and I should go to Kinmen so that I and Tran could talk it over.’
Tsai flew to Kinmen for a tearful reunion early this month.
Neither of them could believe that they had lived under the same roof for seven months, but not knowing they were father and daughter.
A DNA test proved Tran is Tsai’s daughter.
Tran has returned to Vietnam as her work contract expired. Now, she wants to emigrate to Taiwan to care for her father, who is living alone and in poor health.
It was not clear how Tsai’s six children were reacting to the news about their father’s extra-marital affair and their half-sister from Vietnam.
Although Taiwan radio and TV reported Tsai and his daughter’s reunion throughout the day, and their photos were on the front page of every newspaper, Tsai has not received a phone call from any of his six children.
‘I think they will call me when they see the news,’ he said, looking at the telephone on his table.