Mary Lightfine Interview

Who is Mary Lightfine and what projects is she currently working on?

(Answered in third person)

After working sixteen years as a nurse in emergency rooms throughout the United States, Mary Lightfine uproots her life and plants herself in the middle of Mogadishu, Somalia where she decides to join an organization called Doctors Without Borders.  This decision gave her a chance to feel what war, starvation and desperation was like from another completely different perspective that changed her life forever.  During the past twelve years Mary has lived and worked in over a dozen countries, including some of the most hellish spots on earth; she has been seen In LIFE Magazine, The History Channel and on countless news headlines, as well as National and International television.

Mary Lightfine, RN, has recently published an extraordinary true story entitled NURSES, NOMADS, AND WARLORDS about her spine-tingling thirteen month experience as an international health specialist outside the hospital setting….WAY OUTSIDE!!!   Mary donates a portion proceeds from book sales to non-profit charities.  www.NursesNomadsAndWarlords.com

Mary was ambushed and shot at in Somalia, delivered babies in the jungles of Sri Lanka, and traveled by jeep, foot and donkey in perilous Afghani Mountains full of land mines, to help isolated inhabitants.  She brought food to remote villages by helicopter in Nicaragua, and Louisiana after the hurricanes and to starving refugees in South Sudan following the destruction of their villages by government alliances.  She was one of the first to provide medical aid to Kosovar refugees who had experienced unthinkable horrors.  Today Mary is a nurse, pilot, author, public speaker and filmmaker.  She is also a seasoned veteran of the Nobel Prize winning organization, Doctors Without Borders and founder and President of Nurse Without Boundaries and Volunteers Without Boundaries.  Through her inspirational compelling story, you will see the humor in humanity and feel the tragedy of war.  You will be educated, entertained and discover how you can make a difference in your life and in the world around you.    Nominated Lecturer of the year by APCA

As founder and president of the non profit charity, Volunteers Without Boundaries these are some of the projects Mary Lightfine is currently working on:

Mary is coordinating a volunteer program in Chiapas, Mexico and  searching out new programs south of the US border and expanding to cover Africa.

In January of 2008 Mary Lightfine – (president of VWB) will visit a community health project in S. Western Uganda in the Kasese District near Democratic Republic of Congo to support grass roots Community Health including HIV/AIDS prevention, safe delivery of newborns and to place American volunteers for a mutual health &  cultural educational exchange program.

Mary Lightfine met with Ann Hawkins, librarian in Salt Cay, TCI and will make a 2nd donation in October 2007 of 150 donated childrens books and school supplies to the local library for children ages 7-13. 

In 2007, Mary Provided Veterinary relief and delivery of supplies to Helena’s Animal rescue shelter in TCI. Providing hope for approximately 300 island strays and will return again before 2008 to deliver additional supplies and medicins for animals.

Rita Iverson, RN who first contacted Mary Lightfine in 2001 to help in Afghanistan has successfully sent her third container of 1200 bags to 1200 families in Afghanistan on 2/8/07 after Mary put her in touch with a coordinating  partner in Kabul.

Mary Lightfine donates proceeds from every Nurses, Nomads, And Warlords book sold. Get your copy at: www.NursesNomadsAndWarlords.com

Mary through her work with VWB and her lectures continues to inspire others by opening international pathways to caring, sharing and learning.

 

 Aside from these projects, what constitutes your “normal” job?

What is a normal job?  I have not really had a normal job since the mid 80’s. 

As an ER nurse in a high stress environment I learned early on that a job should be something that makes one eager to jump out of bed in the morning therefore I have always tried to balance what I do for “work” with what I love.  I have transformed my pleasures into income producing projects and try not to overdose on any one entity.  A quote I take seriously; “everything in moderation,”  and my personal philosophy- Live like there is no tomorrow but I  don’t do anything I might regret, just in case I live to be 100!  My months are filled with volunteer work (traveling to remote international locations, coordinating volunteers, supplies, and fundraising), sharing cultural diversity with college students through multimedia presentations across the USA, and I also spend time developing other ideas through creative efforts such as  writing, designing computer graphics, designing new clothing,  learning new computer applications, flying airplanes (need to stay in practice)  and  managing a business I co-own with my husband.  

What about Health Care in America.  How do you see the future?

Heath Care in the Untied States falls way behind other developed countries in terms of results, satisfaction and morbidity/ mortality statistics.  I am  working on a paper to outline a new health care plan for America…Health care for all…something sorely needed in America today…contrary to President Bush’s opinion that all Americans can get health care at their local Emergency room…NOT!!!  President Bush has no idea what America needs in terms of health care as he has never experienced or even imagined what life is like for the 90% of US citizens who are not in the rich and famous category.

 

What exactly is Nurses, Nomads, and Warlords about? Just seeing the title makes me think of a fantasy/fiction novel.

Nurses, Nomads, And, Warlords tells my story of a seasoned emergency room nurse, Mary Lightfine, who takes on the greatest challenge of her life when she wakes up one morning in the midst of an African war zone.  In this compelling true story Mary narrowly escapes an attempted kidnapping at gunpoint, death threats and the wiles of a lecherous pilot, as she struggles to help the masses caught in the middle of Somalia’s civil conflict.  In the book you will find out how to get a man off drugs by giving him a bath, how to save your colleague from man-eating sharks, and learn what not to do when you discover a bomb in your patient’s bed. The characters are real, unforgettable and unique.  An exciting, entertaining and challenging read; the next best thing to being there yourself!

Could you explain to the readers of NeuFutur about your “humanitarian mission” and how it affects your life?

To me “humanitarian mission” is a lifestyle.  It is the opportunity to positively affect a life/a community/ a country without negatively affecting the culture.  If I am at the grocery store and the person in front of me is sorting through his or her items to see what he or she can keep due to lack of money…I am there to pay what is lacking so that person can have health meals…I do not make judgments  or ask for anything in return.  For the larger projects I get involved in I do ask that folks make a commitment to help themselves and others (show motivation) prior to my investing in their projects.  

What makes you a “Friend of the Catman Project”?

Catman captured my heart one day when he sent me (via Volunteers Without Boundaries)  his CD for review and a moving letter describing his quest to allow important humanitarian voices (nurses, firemen, paramedics and others who didn’t have much access to mainstream media) to be heard and how he was trying to facilitate same.

I agree with and I hope “The Catman Project” will allow these important voices to be heard that might not otherwise be heard since the mainstream media focuses so much attention upon Hollywood celebs, particularly the dirt surrounding their personal lives. 

How has Catman Cohen’s music changed your perception or otherwise changed how you thought about life?

Catman is the Michael Moore of the music world. He is not afraid of the wrath of those with political influence or full pockets.  I respect that.  He says it like it is and truly wants to help the world become a better place and is doing something about it through his music, videos and his efforts.

If your readers haven’t yet seen it

“PRAYER FOR AMERICA” on You Tube. is an extremely important video that should be seen by all Americans, including the presidential candidates.  Since the video focuses upon what has gone wrong with America, it probably angers many people.  I hope that, insofar as enraging viewers, the video (in my eyes)  serves as tremendous motivator.

Which other acts, musicians, or other artists do you find yourself to be a fan of? What specifically about them is alluring to you?

Many of my friends (including my husband and myself) are involved in the arts; painters, writers, musicians, singers and songwriters to name a few.  What I find most alluring is the ability to communicate on another level, a way of seeing things differently, an ability to adapt, change, and transform things from one form into another.  I admire folks who use their talents to the benefit of all- communicating entertaining positive messages of hope, healing, helping and brotherhood.

Music can bring folks together, in fact in remote Uganda and Southern Sudan the local people use music, and theater to deliver important messages.  Community health workers  write catchy tunes about the importance of getting immunized, teach the songs to kids and then the kids sing them at home, the parents listen and then bring the kids in for their immunizations!!  When I lived in Uganda local women wrote and acted out serious dramas about the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS on their families to the benefit of the whole community.  So music and art is an effective form of educational entertainment.  

While musicians and artists have their own story to tell, what do you discuss when a student or civic group requests you for a speaking engagement? What do you want your audience to take home with them after your speech? 

ONE PERSON CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE – We are all brothers and sisters of the same world – Learn new ideas by sharing our differences and be amazed by how alike we really are!!  For example; when I was in Afghanistan my Afghani colleagues and I sat together and shared stories about our lives, our politics and our religions. The Afghanis told me that the Taliban prohibited them from discussing any religion other than Islam and they were amazed to find out how similar the Jewish, Christian and Islamic philosophies and practices were once we began talking!!  Also I found out that the young Afghani men with whom I was working had the same things on their minds as young Americans. The Afghanis also dispelled many of the biased rumors I had heard about them in the states prior to visiting. 

During my lectures I grab the audience through a two minute video then I take them on a sometimes tearful and often humorous journey through many war torn countries such as Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and others.  Together we walk through the auditory and visual presentation in the sandals of those whose stories I’m sharing.  I bring culture, human faces and compassion to the spectators and demonstrate how it is possible for just one person to make a difference in the world. 

What does the future (1 year, 5 year, and 10 years) hold for yourself? 

I want to write more books, bring cultural diversity to more campuses, stimulate more imaginations, design more clothing / art/ jewellery and expand my volunteer programs to cover more of the earth.

How do individuals get into contact with you?

www.MaryLightfine.com for lecture information

www.NursesNomadsAndWarlords.com for book information

www.VolunteersWithoutBoundaries.com for more volunteer information..and we can really use a one dollar donation from everyone to get our safe birth program off the ground in Uganda. 

Send your dollar to:

Mary Lightfine, President, Volunteers Without Boundaries

Dollars for safe deliveries

435 South Ridgewood Ave., Ste 200, Daytona Beach, Fl 32114

Do you have anything else that you wish to tell readers of NeuFutur Magazine and http://www.neufutur.com ?

Thanks so much for the chance to share.

Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *