Isabel leaves Taiwan after week-long reunion

By Joseph Yeh, The China Post

The China Post–Isabel, a Taiwanese woman who allegedly worked as a domestic slave in the United States, flew back to the U.S. yesterday after a weeklong family reunion at her birthplace in the eastern county of Taitung.

The woman, who was later identified as Ho Hsiao-feng (何曉鳳), of the indigenous Paiwan tribe, was wearing a traditional indigenous necklace when she bid farewell with her younger sister Ho Hsiao-ying(何曉英) at Taitung airport yesterday. Ho and her sister tearfully said their goodbyes. Ho Hsiao-feng (何曉鳳) made a promise that she will come back for a visit again. After leaving Taitung, Ho took a plane at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport later yesterday to depart Taiwan and head back to the U.S. According to a Central News Agency report yesterday, Ho, who was adopted by a family in Taipei 26 years ago when she was 8 years old, could not speak Chinese well and had almost entirely forgotten her mother tongue Paiwan language as well. But she managed to learn two Paiwan words, “Kina,” which means mother, and “masalu,” the indigenous phrase for thank you, during her brief visit. Ho also learned several Chinese phrases to send best regards to her younger sister during her wedding, the CNA report said. During the homecoming trip, Ho also re-familiarized herself with the Paiwan culture, including visiting a tribal temple to worship her ancestors and doing traditional dances while wearing indigenous clothing and accessories, it said. Ho arrived in Taipei from Los Angeles last week on Jan. 19 in the company of a U.S. social worker, a lawyer and her boyfriend.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the Council of Indigenous Peoples had helped arrange Ho’s itinerary. In addition to spending the Lunar New Year Festival with her family, Ho also attended her younger sister Ho Hsiao-ying’s wedding on Jan. 24. On Jan. 21, Ho joined a banquet organized by Foreign Minister Timothy Yang at the MOFA headquarters in Taipei. The banquet was attended by representatives of local social welfare organizations, at which Yang spoke on the government’s human rights stance and Taiwan’s efforts to prevent human trafficking, according to MOFA. Ho was adopted by a family in Taipei 26 years ago when she was 8 years old. She immigrated to the United States with the family in 2002. Last November, CNN reported that she had been abused by her adoptive parents after she was taken to the U.S. and that she had managed to flee the family with the help of friends. She has since been assisted by a U.S. social welfare organization.