Polish orphan Colleen Turzynski leaves Singapore - with more luggage and friends

SINGAPORE - A month after she arrived in Singapore, Polish orphan Ms Colleen Turzynski left for the United States on Sunday morning with more luggage, and more love.

A few of her late mother's relatives were at Changi Airport to send her off. Her mother's best friend, Madam Chan Yoke Mei, 62, was also there with her friends.

The 26-year-old Polish orphan arrived in Singapore on Dec 16 last year and met her Singaporean relatives for the first time in 24 years. She also met some of her late mother's friends.

Her parents were brutally murdered in 1990 in the US and she had had no contact with her Singaporean mother's family here until the two sides were reunited last year with the help of The Straits Times.

Ms Turzynski, who is taking a degree course in the US, left Singapore with two suitcases, one more than she arrived with.

Her aunt, Madam Lee Say Moi, 66, told The Straits Times in Mandarin: "We passed her several family albums, and other gifts like soft toys and clothes."

Ms Turzynski, who is deaf, told The Straits Times through writing that she did not sleep well the night before her flight.

"I was tossing and turning in bed because it was my last night here," she said.

In the past month, she has visited her mother's resting place at Mount Vernon Columbarium, and learnt more about her mother from her relatives and friends. They also took her to various tourist spots such as Sentosa and Orchard Road.

While she is not sure when she will return, she said she hopes to come back regularly. She was here during her school's winter break and will graduate next year.

Minutes before hugging her relatives and entering the departure hall, she said: "I am feeling sad because I have to leave my favourite place. But I am totally happy that my relatives and friends love me. And I finally visited my mum's (resting) place."

For more stories about Ms Turzynski's search for her family, go to straitstimes.com/colleen