Mary Lightfine

Mary Lightfine Speaks of International Volunteer Efforts

March 28, 2008
By: WSU News

Mary Lightfine of Nurse Without Boundaries and an ER Nurse from Tampa, Florida, has traveled the world in service to others visiting some of the most dangerous corners of the globe including Somalia, the Sudan and Afghanistan.  She once served as one of only two nurses in a refugee camp of over 30,000 in Sri Lanka.  She addressed a crowd of over 50 students, faculty and staff, Thursday, March 27 at Worcester State College.

She described for the audience the devastating impact of scarce water resources in the Sudan.  “Because there is no water, she explained,” the people dig ditches, wait for rain water to fill the ditches and drink it.”  When this happens people ingest a small parasite that grows in the human body, lays eggs and the resulting guinea worms literally crawl out of the body through the skin.  This is extremely painful. She then held up a small PVC pipe for the crowd to see and explained that guinea worm has been nearly eradicated from the region by use of this simple tool. She credits former President Jimmy Carter with distributing the simple pipe fitted with cotton filters that the Sudanese use to drink water from the ditches and thereby filtering out the parasites.

“Nothing is too simple or too basic to change the lives of many,” she said.  She urged students in the audience to never forget that the simplest solutions are often the best and urged them to look for ways to serve others around the globe and in their own backyard.  “Travel to another country if you can and stay for a month or two to learn the language and get to know the culture,” she said.  “Or get involved in a literacy project right here in Worcester.”

Her talk was part of the acclaimed Diversity Lecture Series sponsored by Student Center/Student Activities, Disability Services, Health Services, Occupational Therapy, Women studies, Counseling Office, Health Science Department, Student Events Committee, Third World Alliance and Flagship Bank.

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