Heartbreak and Healing in Iraq

May 18, 2017 • Iraq
Seven-year-old Anmar* lost his feet when a mortar blast hit the soccer field where he was playing.
Seven-year-old Anmar* lost his feet when a mortar blast hit the soccer field where he was playing.

Reflections from our emergency field hospital outside of Mosul.

Kaitlyn L. is the media relations coordinator for Samaritan’s Purse. She recently covered our relief efforts among displaced families escaping from Mosul into northern Iraq.

Medical staff have treated more than 1,500 patients since the Emergency Field Hospital opened in January just outside of war-ravaged Mosul. Traumatic injuries, life-saving care, and major surgeries mark the days. It’s hard to wrap your head and heart around so many patients with violent injuries due to gunfire, land mines, mortar rounds, and other explosives.

Our medical team works in Jesus' Name.

Our medical team demonstrates God’s love as they care for the critically injured.

When I reflect on my time in Iraq, I don’t think as much about the mass numbers that came in and out of the door as I do about the eyes wide with fear, the faces etched in pain, and the tears shed.

I think of Sonia,* a young mom who was holding her 5-month-old baby when she stepped on a landmine. She lost her leg, but she thought it was a small price to pay for her freedom. Sonia gave me a glimpse into the torture she endured every day in west Mosul when she said, “I may have lost my leg, but now I am living.”

I think of Anmar,* a 7-year-old boy whose life was forever altered while playing what should have been a fun game of soccer. He lost both his feet when a mortar landed in the soccer field, and his best friend is now paralyzed from the waist down.

I think of Nadia,* a 12-year-old girl hospitalized with her mom after shrapnel and debris from an airstrike caused deep lacerations. Nadia sat on her bed methodically looping brightly colored rubber bands together to create stretchy bracelets. It was as if busying her hands gave her a voice.

About 40 percent of patients treated at the Emergency Field Hospital are women and children.

About half of patients treated at the emergency field hospital are women and children.

She kept repeating, “We used to be so happy. Before ISIS, we were so happy.” She stared blankly across the hospital room, and my heart broke when I tried to imagine the evil her eyes have witnessed.

I think of Nadia’s mom, Elean, who was 31 weeks pregnant. Her wounds miraculously stop right above her belly, protecting the life forming inside her. I think of this child being born into a world of chaos and unknowns.

When I think of these precious people—the families ripped apart by explosions and separated by war—I still see hope. Inside the tents of the Emergency Field Hospital, things are shifting. Heartbreak is giving way to hope and healing. The darkest evil is being mended by the love and compassion of Jesus Christ.

I remember their thankful hearts and resilient spirits, and I know that God is at work.

*Names changed for security.