Young Lynne
Lynne

FOR, Founder

A Personal Story

Lynne was born on Rambutso Island (also known as Rambutyo Island), Papua New Guinea (PNG) to a local woman, Niakop Epili and an Australian Father who was teaching in Manus Province at the time. Her Father formally adopted her after successfully presenting his case to the entire village and convincing the village elders she would have a better life with him. Before she was 1, Lynne moved in with her Father. She grew up with the belief her mother had died at childbirth, a belief she held until her early twenties. It was to take her another 20 years to work up the courage to find her Mother and connect with her island ancestry. In April 2007, her partner Ruud organized tickets back as a surprise birthday gift and they visited this remote and beautiful place, meeting her Mother, Grandfather and 7 brothers and sisters for the first time.

There they met the villagers of this remote island community who continue to live a traditional lifestyle as subsistence farmers, completely reliant upon the sea for their livelihoods. During their stay they noticed that free diving for beche-de-mer (sea cucumbers) for sale to Asian markets was the only source of hard currency with which to buy goods and services not available on Rambutso itself. With stocks nearer the shore depleted from over-fishing, the local divers were free-diving to increasingly dangerous depths. Sadly, after Lynne returned home she learned her youngest brother whom she had just met for the first time 2 weeks prior had died doing just that, leaving behind a young wife and Nathan, his two year old son.

Recognising such deaths would become increasingly likely unless alternative sources of income could be identified, Lynne and Ruud decided to set up a charity to help the villagers of Rambutso. Thus, Friends of Rambutso was established in August 2007, with a mandate to work alongside the villagers and families of Rambutso to help them secure their financial independence whilst also preserving and managing their environment for future generations.

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