Guard towers and guns eclipse the sunlight. When Sgt. Jhonny Dumenys medic work sends him off the downtown Kabul base in Afghanistan, he leaves in the equivalent of a Brinks armored truck. Security concerns ban the 33-year-old White Plains EMT from passing the barbed wire and sandbags that line the base without permission.
Dumeny never met the 24 Afghan children who froze to death in a month , or the surviving families suffering through the regions fiercest winter in 15 years. But the news still reached him. In the month since, Dumeny and fellow service members have helped send more than 1,000 blankets and winter gear to Afghans.
One of my colleagues, she took it upon herself to start a blanket drive. So she talked to some friends back home through Facebook. I did the same, said Dumeny. Its definitely making a difference. We havent been able to go to different school and refugee camps, as of yet, but the person that does that for the charity says the people are very grateful.
Sozo International and Afghan Hands distribute the hats, gloves, scarves, sweaters, coats, and blankets sent from the states to those in need. Dumenys family and friends in White Plains said they were eager to send winter gear to Kabul.
Its just like Jhonny to think of doing something like that. We sent a couple of boxes down there, said Josue Andre, Dumenys brother-in-law. He was going to school, aiming to become a doctor, but he put that aside when they asked him to go to Afghanistan. He didnt hesitate. He has a giving heart.
Dumeny was in the middle of a bachelors degree in business and a pre-med program at Fordham University when the Army approached him about a second deployment. On Dec. 16, 2011 he arrived in Kabul, halting the studies he enrolled in to help him care for his two children with sickle cell anemia and beginning a different kind of education.
"I wanted to get some medical knowledge and maybe one day get to medical school so I can be a better father," he said. "Ive just been learning a lot from the doctor that we have over here. So its been great."
More than 1,1000 service members and civilians have received medical care from Dumeny. A hectic day entails rushing five Afghan soldiers with improvised explosive device wounds to the hospital and then easing two Americans back to base. A flux in the number of patients prevents Dumeny from describing a typical day.
There was this one Navy captain, this was about a month-and-a-half ago, he came in late at night, 4:30 a.m. complaining of nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, said Dumeny. He vomited on me. After that, I cleaned him up, plugged an IV in him, got him some fluids, gave him some medicine and he was on his way. Actually that was my best experience so far.
Dumeny said hes not sure when he will get to return to his wife and three kids in White Plains. For now, daily chats with his wife and Skype session with the children will have to suffice. He misses his family, but said he'll feel the same way about aiding soldiers once he is back in White Plains.
Serving your country is one of the best things you can do. The friends you meet in the service, you will never have any other friends like that, that are willing to put their life on the line to save your life, he said.
Dumeny, a Port-au-Prince, Haiti native, said he enlisted in 1998 because "the U.S. gave me so many opportunities" and "I wanted to give something back." A June 2006 to October 2007 tour sent him to the Tallil Air Base in Iraq as a truck driver.
Anyone interested in sending clean, gently-used hats, gloves, scarves, jackets, sweaters, blankets and other winter attire to Kabul, should send packages to Dumeny. The base is also collecting school supplies, such as notebooks, pencils, pens and erasers for Afghans. Address packages to:
Sgt. Jhonny G. Dumeny USFOR-A/NKC Attn: TMC APO AE, 09356
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