Dori O'Neal Mar 29, 2008 (Tri-City Herald )
Nancy Harless has spent the last 10 years trying to make the world a better place.
The nurse-practitioner, who grew up in Benton City but now lives in the Midwest, has taken her healing skills to different parts of the world where she helped the poor and learned how to laugh, love and live with women of many cultures.
She wrote a book about her experiences, Womankind: Connection & Wisdom Around the World....Harless, 60, mostly takes the road less traveled when visiting countries around the globe. Those journeys haven't been to luxury resorts, either. She visits poverty-stricken areas where her medical skills can aid the sick and needy. But she also found a camaraderie among the women of the countries she went to.
In Belize, she sat under a cashew tree in the rainforest with young Mayan mothers trying to answer their questions about a world they knew nothing about. She hung out with cranky, coarse fishwives as they scaled the day's catch on the wharf.
In Kosovo, she navigated dangerously rutted mountain roads to get a poor pregnant woman to a hospital and comforted weeping women as they relived the horrors of war.
"What a ride it's been," Harless said of her adventures in a phone interview this week. "My life has been tremendously effected by the women I've met during this journey."
The stories Harless tells in her book will grip the heart as easily as it will make the reader laugh, said Susan Thiss of Richland.
After reading Womankind, Thiss said, "Wow! There's so much to take in when reading Nancy's book that I had to put it down after each chapter for awhile just so I could breathe normally again."
Though Thiss has never met Harless face-to-face, she grew to know her through her friend, Candy Harmon, who grew up with Harless in Benton City.
"Nancy would write these incredible letters to Candy and then she would forward them to me," Thiss said. "I grew to know her through those letters as I listened to the incredible adventures she had while helping those (less fortunate). Some of those places were just plain scary, but she told the stories in a way that helped me understand that there truly is a common thread among women all over the world."
Harless describes that common thread as a "sisterhood" connection that all women have no matter where they live -- the culture they practice, the heartache they feel and the joy they embrace......