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Nurse recounts blessings in aiding impoverished

The 18-month-old girl who kept falling down was brought by her mother to nurse Linda Caffrey.

"It turned out that she had two severe ear infections with ear drums ready to burst," recalled Caffrey, of Pendleton. "She had to have been in so much pain and probably would have had lost a good part of her hearing."

Caffrey was in the Dominican Republic earlier this year as a member of a team of volunteer health care professionals to minister to the impoverished.
The little girl was brave -- no tears -- and even managed a smile at treatment's end.

Even though "people we treated are very poor by our standards, parents -- both mothers and fathers -- were the most loving you could ever see," Caffrey said. "They would do anything to get help for their children. If that meant waiting in line out in the brutal sun with no shade for hours to see someone, they did it."

"They did it without complaining," she added, "and they gratefully hugged you when you were finished."

The volunteers helped the villagers through the mission Score International early this year. They helped hundreds of people, suffering from parasites to open wounds.

The free clinics tended to everything from dentistry to diabetes, eyeglasses and pharmaceuticals.

The drugs and medical suppliest were either donated or bought with donations.

"I'd venture to guess that all of us got much more out of the trip than we felt we gave," she said.

Caffrey, an RN, said she went into nursing "because I enjoyed helping others."

"I'd been laid off multiple times, and as a single parent of four children I decided to get into a profession that offered stability," she added.

"After many years of hospital nursing, I branched out into other fields where I could use my clinical skills to help others," she added. "However, I always found myself needing some connection back to people and many clinics and emergency centers over the years as well."

Caffrey also is a certified nurse paralegal, and heads the medical records department at the Buffalo law firm of Cohen & Lombardo.

While in the Dominican Republic, Caffrey visited an orphanage, and arranged to sponsor a child.

She received lots of local support before going to the Dominican Republic.

"We were told we would be surprised at how many people would jump onboard in support of us," said Caffrey, a congregant of Amherst's Chapel at CrossPoint. "No one was more surprised than I was when donations began to pour in from friends, neighbors and family. One friend even showed the letter to the president of her company . . . and he gave a generous donation."

When partners of her own firm, Cohen & Lombardo, heard about it, "they wanted to know how they could help," she added. "The partners did not hesitate for one moment to generously donate a substantial amount of money to my trip."

"It was a great blessing to take what God had given us and give it back to those who need it."

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