Nurses, Nomads and Warlords
by Mary Lightfine
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Mary Lightfine takes on the greatest challenge of her life when she lands 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 Somaliaís civil conflict.† Find out how to instill hope in a homeless man by giving him a bath, how to save your colleague from man-eating sharks, and what to do when you find a bomb in your patientís bed. † An exciting, entertaining and inspiring read.
Mary Lightfine, a seasoned veteran of the Nobel Prize winning organization, Doctors Without Borders has lived and worked as a nurse, in over a dozen countries, including some of the most violent spots on earth.† She was ambushed and shot at in Somalia, delivered babies in the jungles of Sri Lanka and traveled in perilous Afghani Mountains. †Ms Lightfine brought food to starving refugees in South Sudan and piloted her own plane to help disaster victims in Louisiana, Haiti and Grand Turk. She is founder and President of Volunteers Without Boundaries and lives in Florida with her husband Paul Rooy.
Inside the Book
Mogadishu, Somalia, 1992
The oppressive night air smothers my body, rousing streams of sweat that bond my breasts to the gauzy fabric of my now translucent nightgown. Tiny pebbles dig into my naked feet as I creep through the dark courtyard. The dim light of a crescent moon guides me through the unfamiliar stillness. My steps are soundless. Iron gates and towering concrete walls surround me like the body of a mythical god, jealous of my burning desire for freedom. Quietly I approach the iron portal and stand in perfect silence, fearful of waking my jealous captor. Just beyond the gate, Freedom lures with dozens of minute flashing lights. The imprisoning metal ribs and resolute walls seem to tighten with every call from freedom's seductive flares.
My fingers grip the cold, iron bars as I press against them with desperate thrusting motions, leaning and pulling in fervent response to freedom's wooing beacon. The lights respond with increased frequency until suddenly the gates give way and I am propelled onto a bed of fine sand.
I turn to lie on my back as warm water rhythmically washes over my body. The tiny lights assemble into one glowing sun. My eyes strain to focus and finally reveal miles of perfect coastline. Radiant beams dance on gently rolling waves that like a tender lover, soothe my body in the surf.
A small object washes against me but my eyes remain closed, wanting only to savor the supposed serenity. The surf intensifies and begins to thrash the fleshy object against my body. Finally, I grasp and lift the cool, doughy item towards my line of vision. I am clutching a detached, rotting human foot; putrefied in the salty surf. Abruptly the gently rocking waves become violent torrents of horror filled with hundreds of human appendages.
I wake suddenly with sheets twisted around my sweat-soaked body. Although my eyes are wide open I am unsure of my surroundings until I hear the mournful yelping of a dog outside my window. My mind connects with the white stucco walls of my room in the International Medical Corps compound. It is Friday the 13th. Mogadishu, Somalia 1992.
The man who shared my bed last night is gone. A note sits on a table just out of reach. Sweet scents of baking bread and frying eggs entice my conscience to embrace the day. Reaching up I move the sheer sheet draped over my window and see a homeless dog barking incessantly in the street below my room. The dog is likely one of the many pets abandoned when diplomats fled the country. A machine gun-clad Somali guard leans against the outside wall near my window. He guards the building that was once a lavish Italian villa but has transformed into the walled International Medical Corps compound. Annoyed by the beast's steady pleas, he casually lifts his weapon and fires several rounds into the helpless animal. The barking stops. I replace the sheet over the window and my feet find the cold, marble floor. I walk a few steps to the table where the note is leaning against my backpack. My finger follows the rising and falling of the letters that form two words scrawled across the page.
I embed the note inside the pages of my journal then hold the book against my chest letting last night's passion pass through me once more. But this moment of departure is brief.
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