Recycling glasses for a community in need

February 9, 2024 BY

Vision: Wendy Rigney received an overwhelming response to her call for glasses to donate to poor Papua New Guinea communities. Photo: SANDRA JAMES

AN appeal on Facebook for old eyeglasses and sunglasses has received an overwhelming response.

Run by Wendy Rigney, who spent six years in Papua New Guinea as a teenager, will be taking the glasses to the country when she visits next month.

“I was almost 13 when my family moved to Bougainville Island,” she said.

“My father had already been there for a year as camp catering services manager for the local copper mine. Then my mother, two sisters and I joined him.

“I was a wonderful place and I have so many great memories.”

Visiting Port Moresby in 2014, Ms Rigney was shocked by the poverty she saw on some of the small islands.

“Despite the poverty, everyone is so friendly and happy, always smiling,” she said.

“I stayed with Louisa Kariko who was my sister’s friend and always at our house when we lived there.

“When I came home, I asked around for unwanted knitting needles and yarn, and on my next visit taught many women to knit.

“They were so grateful.”

Four years ago, Ms Rigney searched Facebook to see if she could find another friend.

“Patricia was a good friend but after I started work, and then later moved back to Australia, we lost contact,” Ms Rigney said.

“Through Facebook, I was able to find her daughter Ireen and I’ve sent messages through her ever since. Patricia still lives on Bougainville Island.

“Next month I am going to surprise Patrica. She doesn’t know I’m coming, and we haven’t seen each other for more than 40 years.

“On the way, I will visit Louisa and take all the glasses. They are desperately needed and much too expensive over there.”

Ms Rigney leaves at the end of next month and already has her suitcase packed.

“I received so many glasses I had to take out some of my clothes,” she said.

“I don’t need any more for now but, if they can still use more, I will collect them when I return and post them over.

“Thank you, to everyone who responded. You have helped to make a big difference to my PNG family.”