Maranatha Weeks, a Montreal-area nurse, has returned from the embattled Iraqi city of Mosul, where she served as a nurse supervisor at an emergency field hospital.
During her month-long stay in Iraq, Weeks was working with the Samaritan’s Purse Organization.
Mosul is the last major stronghold in Iraq held by the so-called Islamic State group (ISIS).
The Iraqi military captured the eastern sector of the city in January of this year. The fighting has displaced tens of thousands.
The field hospital where Weeks worked is 20 kilometers away from the war zone.
Weeks treated dozens of patients, many of them women and children severely injured in the battle between Iraqi government forces and ISIS fighters.
The Hudson native saw both gruesome and heartening scenes during her time in Iraq.
One shocking scene involved a trauma bay lined with young children injured by an ISIS drone strike.
“On five of the six stretchers lay children, crying for their mothers, bleeding, and some barely moving,” Weeks told Global News.
“Why are these all children?” she caught herself saying out loud.
Weeks, who has been working as a nurse for the past four years, held a dying young girl in the last moments of her life.
“I gave the young girl ketamine to make her more comfortable, and felt my heart twisting inside of me,” Weeks recalled.
During the emotional scene, the 25-year-old nurse came to a sobering realization.
“These moments were delicate and precious – moments of infinite value.”
Weeks mentions how she would have to quickly gather her emotions after touching times such as those and get back to work.
During her time in Mosul, Weeks would sometimes have to help injured families and also assist the ISIS soldiers that were the cause of those same injuries.
“It was a huge pull between choosing,” Weeks said. “I could choose to hate and choose anger or, choose mercy and compassion and grace.”
Samaritan’s Purse take in all who need medical attention during the Mosul conflict, said the organization’s media relations manager Frank King.
Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization whose mission is to provide “spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world.”
Weeks plans on returning to the conflict zone this spring if her schedule permits.
King says the large-scale hospital will be deployed until June.
“We will be there for as long as we are needed” King told Global News.
Weeks started working with Samaritan’s Purse organization in 2015, travelling to Togo to serve as a ward and clinical nurse.
This is the second time the Samaritan’s Purse has deployed their field hospital, initially setting up during the Ecuadorian earthquake last April.