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Academic speaker series opens

"Nurse Without Boundaries" tells of hardships, hope


Published (Volume 76, No. 4)


On Monday, September 15, the Student Activities Council and the Office of Student Life will be co-sponsoring the appearance of Mary Lightfine.

Lightfine is a registered nurse and a veteran volunteer with the Nobel peace Prize-winning humanitarian organization “Doctors without Borders,” a medical relief organization founded by French physicians in the 1970s.  She has provided emergency medical care in more than a dozen countries, most recently Afghanistan, Cuba, and Haiti. She was ambushed in Somalia, delivered babies in Sri Lanka, and was one of the first to provide medical aid to refugees in Kosovo.

Lightfine spent 16 years as an emergency room nurse in California, Florida, Georgia and Ohio before deciding to join “Doctors Without Borders.”  Lightfine has lived and worked in more than a dozen poverty-stricken, devastated and war-torn countries, including Liberia, Macedonia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Uganda.

“I was forced to step over the dead bodies of famine victims so that I could supervise the feedings of hundreds of malnourished and dehydrated children a day,” Lightfine says of her experience in Sudan. “Dozens died before my eyes.”

In the refugee camps of Kosovo, Lightfine faced “ten-day-old bullet wounds, and people who have not slept for a month because of the horrible things they saw.”

After working as a registered nurse in emergency rooms throughout the United States, Lightfine decided to join the international humanitarian movement by affiliating with “Doctors Without Borders” and International Medical Corps. That decision changed her life.

Since then she has lived and worked in more than a dozen countries, including some of the most hellish spots on earth. She was ambushed and shot at in Somalia, and has delivered babies in Sri Lanka.

She had to step around bodies to feed the living in Southern Sudan and saw children who had been forced to watch their mothers mutilated by rebels in Uganda.

Mary brought food to remote villages by helicopter in Nicaragua, after hurricane Mitch. She was also one of the first to provide medical aid to Kosovar refugees who had experienced unthinkable horrors.

In January 2002 Mary returned from Afghanistan where she traversed perilous mountains swarming with land mines, forged icy rivers by foot and on donkey to help isolated inhabitants.

In 1999 she was among those distinguished members of “Doctors Without Borders” to have been honored with the Nobel Peace prize. She is back in the USA to share her stories with you.

The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the University Center’s Watkins Auditorium. Afterwards, refreshments will be served in room 230 and Lightfine will be on hand to greet students and answer any questions. Everyone is welcome to attend.