Sandi Turner had no idea that the child she was about to meet would change her life forever.
"The first time I met Sondra was during one of our first visits. We were at the orphanage and a young lady came and said, 'I have a baby that I can't support, I want to give her to you,'" Turner said.
Sandi went along as the mother took the staff from New Vision Orphanage to the little girl.
"We followed the mom across the street to a little bitty shack, falling apart and there was Sondra, sitting by a tub of water, with a machete right next to her," Turner said.
The conditions the little girl was living in were difficult for Sandi to bear.
"She just kinda sat there and on the other the side of her she had a small tube of toothpaste and she started squeezing it and eating it," Turner said.
Sondra's mother explained how she couldn't take care of her daughter anymore since the child's father had died in the 2010 earthquake. She then completed some paperwork and the New Vision Orphanage took Sondra in.
"I was able to get her clothes and give her a bath. First of all, I showed her reflection in the mirror and she was like, 'Who is this?' The first time I poured water over her head, she was so thirsty she started drinking it," Turner said.
Over the next few days, Sandi formed an unbreakable bond with Sondra but she knew their time together would soon end.
"That day I put her down thinking, I'm going to have to leave and this is going to be hard for me. So we all loaded the bus and the door was open and we all saw her crying, like 'Don't leave me.' Everybody was on the bus crying. It was so sad," Turner said.
Back in Lubbock, Sandi got a call from the orphanage with some shocking news. Shortly after Sondra's arrival at the orphanage, her mother's story started to unravel, forcing the little girl back out onto the streets and unable to care for herself.
"He explained to me that the father existed. And Sondra's mom came back and said 'I have to take Sondra. The dad said he was going to kill me if I leave her here', so before we knew it, she was gone. I would ask every so often, 'Have you heard? Have you seen her?' And nothing," Turner said.
So when Sandi returned to Haiti, months later, she was determined to find the child who had stolen her heart.
"They sent us through the village and sure enough we found her. From the very back of the curtain, she was peeking through, with the toothpaste still in her hand. I went up to her and she remembered me," Turner said.
Now each time she travels to Haiti, Sandi searches high and low for little Sondra. This time around, Sondra jumped into Sandi's arms, as if no time had passed.
"Just the fact that she continues to remember me even though I can't come all the time. I made a promise that I would come and see her and continue to help her as I can," Turner said.
It's an unlikely pairing, but one that's inspired a life-long mission to build a better future for children from Lubbock, all the way to Haiti.
The New Vision Orphanage is in desperate need of specific supplies that are listed below. They also need general donations, a individual child sponsors, so if you're interested in helping out, you can do so at sondrassong.org
New Vision Ministry Needs List:
Home Construction Program
Our Children's Home
Student sponsors – there are kids who went to school the first semester assuming they would eventually be sponsored. The teacher wouldn't let them return to class after Christmas. So it's not too late to get some re-enrolled.
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