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 Eyeglass Assist

Solomon Islands Project

2018

About Paul and Frances

Paul grew up in Canberra. After high school he attended James Cook University where he studied Marine Biology and Zoology. He later became an air traffic controller but the urge to travel became irrepressible.

Frances grew up on a dairy farm at Nambrok in Victoria then attended hairdressing college. She owned her own salon for a few years then her desire to travel also became impossible to resist.

They met in Singapore in the early ‘80s.

Paul and a few mates travelled to Thailand in search for a traditional boat builder, however they ended up buying a 50-foot converted traditional Thai junk rig ex-salt carrying sailing boat called the Marlee Coo.

Frances had sailed from Darwin via the Indonesian archipelago to Singapore on a 30-foot traditional Malay junk with no engine, no electronics, no radio and no conventional toilet.

The sailing boats were anchored at either end of the Strait of Johor and back then very few foreigners were sailing the waters of Asia. Paul and friends were told there was another boat with white people aboard down the other end of the Straits so they came to say hi.

Frances had completed her journey onboard and was returning to Australia to attend her sister Bernadette's wedding. She had no plans for after the wedding, so the crew of the Marlee Coo asked Frances if she would like to return to Singapore and sail the South China Seas with them.

She did. Thirty-five years later Paul and Frances are still together sailing the seas.

They sailed South East Asia as well as the Northern Territory and Queensland coasts of Australia for four years.

After their first son was born, Marlee Coo was sold and they moved back to land. A few years later their second son was born and they relocated to the Northern Territory.

They had the great opportunity while in the Territory to live and work on the aboriginal communities and to spend time with the indigenous people.  But the desire to go back to the sea was always there.

When the boys completed their schooling it was time to go. The big question was when was enough money, enough money ?  They were never ones to buy the newest additions. They always repaired their goods and reused and reused again before recycling where possible.

Their favourite shops were the second hand or opportunity stores. They made for themselves whatever they could and so never spent all their wages. Paul had a well-paid job and they never wasted the money on more and more stuff, striving for an uncluttered life.

In 2008 they packed up their house and moved full-time onto Sea Spray –their 1982 35-foot Endurance sailing boat they had restored over the previous seven years.

Departing Darwin they headed north to the Spice Islands of Indonesia to Wayag Island then turned east across the top of Papua New Guinea before going south to New Caledonia then quickly transiting the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu with plans to return at the change of season.They returned to Vanuatu and by this that time decided they really enjoyed the lifestyle and the humanitarian work they were undertaking.

However, they were keen to buy a bigger sailing boat – one that sailed well to windward (not that they ever intend to sail to windward, but you know...). As luck would have it they met the owners of Monkey Fist, who were returning to Australia to sell the boat. Monkey Fist was all they were looking for in a cruising boat/home. She sailed very well on all points of sail, was comfortable and had a great cockpit. The negotiations commenced and Paul and Frances returned to Australia to seal the deal and sell Sea Spray. Since 2010 they have sailed to almost all the Pacific island groups conducting thier Eyeglass Assist programs along the way. They have also sailed Japan, Alask, BC Canada, west coast of America and Mexico. In Mexico, on the Pacific coast of Baja California and in the Sea of Cortez they also conducted their EA program.

However, they never did make it back to the Solomon Islands.

Our goal/mission

The Melanesian people are close to our hearts and now is the right time to assist this island nation the best way we can. And that is by way of providing glasses at no cost or obligation to the remote villages where other aid organisations nor the government are able to assist.

Often the people in the remote communities are very suspicious of our motives. People understand that in this modern world rarely are things given or done without an ulterior motive. Occasionally we are asked directly: ”Why are you doing this ?”  

There is a reason... Prior to our departure we knew our their journey needed a purpose. We could not just aimlessly wander around month after month, year after year.

Throughout our lives we were never ones to be idle. If we could lend a hand, whether to an individual or a community group, it was always in our nature to do so.

Secondly, we strongly believe that in our modern age everyone should have the right of clear vision, regardless of their geographical location, or their financial capabilities.

To all of us, sight is the primary sense. Without clear sight often people lose their self-worth if unable to contribute to the daily functions of the family or community.

Carting thousands of pairs of spectacles on board Monkey Fist around the Pacific at times is a juggling act. We have lost count of the times the bags are moved, resorted, restocked and are then moved again and yet again.

And as our journey has continued our desire to assist people less fortunate than ourselves has only become more important. For us to be able to give the gift of better sight to so many people who otherwise have no conceivable ways to obtain what we in the western world take for granted, has been nothing short of remarkable.

Why do we do it? Because we can and we want to. The pure joy we see on the receiver's face just keeps bringing us back.  

We sincerely thank Lions Club Australia’s Recycle For Sight Program (R4S) and their dedicated volunteers for the countless hours of time, ongoing support and encouragement. Without them none of this would be achievable.

To donate and become involved in this worthy project, to give the gift of better sight to the people of the Solomon Islands, please give what you can as any amount will help so we can make this happen.

Paul and Frances Tudor-Stack

Port in Vic

 

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This website was designed and created by Paul and Frances Tudor-Stack