Friday, April 27, 2007

Volunteers Without Borders

We've all seen it. Usually we've seen it during sleepless nights at three in the morning, hunkered down on our couches in front of the TV. I'm referring to the images of starving children, wounded souls, and devastated countries while a host pleads with his late night audience to donate 30 cents a day to support the afflicted lingering in the background. Maybe we listened, maybe it made us uncomfortable, or maybe we changed the channel to catch some of that marathon of Punk'd on MTV. Regardless of our reaction, we've all seen it.

On April 5, Nobel Peace Price winner Mary Lightfine gave a lecture entitled "Nurse without Borders" to GSC students in the Performing Arts Building about her work with Doctors without Borders. The students' first introduction to Lightfine was a projected photograph of her holding the hands of middle-eastern children. Many of the slides to follow were pictures akin to the ones on our late night TV screens. She gave a name to those faces and told the stories behind their suffering.
This woman has dedicated more than 10 years of her life living in countries ravaged by war, famine, diseases, and poverty, providing medical treatment to soldiers, civilians, and everyone in between. She has been shot at, threatened, and robbed. Regardless, she still sees the beauty in these places and cultures and the desperate need to aid them.

Lightfine reveals the character that pricked her curiosity about the world existing outside of America. She recalls, "Ever since the first time I saw Tarzan swing across my TV set, he planted a seed of curiosity in my brain. That seed grew and grew until after 16 years as a nurse, I woke up one day in Africa."

Behind her personal experience and pictures, there lies a serious message. The message that has become quite clich├ęd, but it could not contain more truth, that one person can make a difference. She told the students about a deadly worm that develops as a result of drinking dirty water in many of these poverty-stricken countries. But because of one person inventing a simple plastic tube with a cotton filter the problem has nearly been eradicated. A problem that was plaguing millions is nearly defeated by one person. That's powerful.

And this was precisely her point and her motivation for speaking around the country. This was the reason she started the organization "Volunteers without Boundaries," which provides the opportunity for people to serve the outside world and find their own calling.

Lightfine reminded that we, the students, "are the future leaders and inventors." She encouraged the involvement of GSC students in making a better world for the less fortunate, however that may take shape. Whether it's becoming a doctor, a nurse, a teacher, an inventor, or just pledging 30 cents a day before switching the channel to MTV. We can make a difference, and it is people like Mary Lightfine who prove it and remind others of it.

1 comment:

William Lecorchick said...

That's so dumb. Why don't those people just get a job;)