BY MELISSA SIM US CORRESPONDENT IN WASHINGTON, Straits Times 15 April 2014
A HANDFUL offered donations, hundreds left messages of support and thousands shared the article on Facebook, with the story of Ms Colleen Turzynski striking a chord with Singaporeans.
The article on deaf orphan Turzynski’s search for her Singaporean family, published in The Straits Times (ST) on April 7, reached 216,000 Facebook users, with thousands sharing the story hoping this would increase Ms Turzynski’s chance of success.
Readers who shared the story on Facebook encouraged their friends to spread the word. For example, reader Min Koh wrote: “Let’s help her! Share this pls!!”
Another reader, Mr Gabriel Q Chan wrote: “Sharing this hoping it will reach someone somewhere.”
There were also well-wishers who wrote to ST, offering her a place to stay or wishing to contribute to her airfare if she should decide to visit Singapore. One reader even offered to use his air miles to get her a ticket.
Ms Turzynski’s Singaporean mother Lee Kui Yin, 39, Polish father Kazimierz Turzynski, 35, and grandfather Mieczyslaw Turzynski, 61, were murdered in a brutal stabbing which took place in Clifton, New Jersey, in the United States, in 1990.
Police found their bodies only a week later and discovered 17-month-old Colleen Turzynski.
Later, she was taken to Poland and raised by her paternal uncle and grandmother, and lost contact with her mother’s family in Singapore.
Five months ago, when she went back to the US, the 25-year-old started searching for her Singaporean relatives, approaching the Singapore Consulate in New York and New Jersey Department of Children and Families.
Among the e-mail messages and well wishes from readers of the ST story on her search were three e-mail messages from members of her family, who contacted the paper almost immediately after the article appeared.
An emotional reunion ensued last Thursday at a video call where tears were shed by Ms Turzynski and her Singaporean relatives. During the 45-minute call, they spoke about their desire to meet up in Singapore soon. Ms Turzynski told ST she hoped to visit in the next one or two years. In the meantime, she would save money and improve her English.
This time, Singaporeans rejoiced with Ms Turzynski and again offered to help her make her way to Singapore.
Said Cheng Cynthia: “So touching, Colleen, please come home soon. I’m sure not only your own family members wish to meet you, but all Singaporeans would also like to meet you too.”
A common theme among the comments were offers for Ms Turzynski to visit Singapore sooner rather than later.
Wrote Trina Liu on Facebook: “No need to wait for one to two years to fly to Singapore, Colleen. I’m sure if you want to visit, we would gladly pool some money for you to visit.”
Ms Turzynski was touched by the outpouring of support and said she wanted to “thank everyone who has been so loving” and those who have helped her.
She added: “With the support of the newspaper, The Straits Times, they have been so supportive and so helpful; thank you so much. If it weren’t for you, I couldn’t have found my family.”
Those who wish to send Ms Turzynski well wishes, or contribute to her Singapore visit may e-mail [email protected] with their details.