At the very beginning, Lynne Shori’s life was very different. She was born on Rambutso Island in PNG’s Manus Province in the 1960s: her mother from Rambutso; her father an Australian teacher who formally adopted Lynne after he convinced the village elders she would have a better life with him.
Lynne grew up in Australia believing her mother had died at childbirth, until – in her early twenties – the true story was revealed. It took her another twenty years to built the courage to find her mother and connect with her island ancestry. Last April, Lynne’s partner, Ruud Dautzenberg, organised a journey to Rambutso and together they visited this remote and beautiful place. Lynne met her mother, Niakop Epili, grandfather and seven brothers and sisters for the first time.
The only source of money for the people of Rambutso is free diving for beche-de-mer. With stocks depleting from over-fishing, the local divers dive to increasingly dangerous depths in search of the precious ‘sea cucumber’. When Lynne returned home she learned her youngest brother, whom she had just met, had died while diving, leaving behind a young wife and two year old son.
Lynne and Ruud were immediately inspired to set up a charity to help the villagers of Rambutso. This was established in August with a mandate to secure the financial independence of the islanders whilst preserving their environment. Next March, to begin this process, Friends of Rambutso is organising a trip to the island, open to all people with a sense of adventure who are excited by opportunities for cultural exchange.
Photo: Rambutso sunset [PNG Development Bank]