Relief for Refugees and Displaced People - 080671 International Crisis Response

Canadian nurse inspired to help Rohingya diphtheria patients

Serving as the hands and feet of Jesus Christ to people in desperate need—a calling passed on to her by her mother—is motivating Maranatha Weeks to start 2018 working with Samaritan’s Purse to help critically ill Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

“My mom (Nancy, who died in 2009 after a 13-year battle with cancer) was such a testimony to living out the Gospel,” said Maranatha, a 26-year-old emergency room nurse based out of Montreal.

“Mom made it clear that time is short and the only person worth living for is Jesus. She never stopped helping others, even when she was in and out of the hospital.”

Maranatha and two other Canadians are on their way to Bangladesh to work in a 50-bed treatment center erected by Samaritan’s Purse. The treatment center is being used to respond to an outbreak of diphtheria among the 655,000 Rohingya who fled from violence and murder in their homeland of Myanmar in 2017.

Using donations from people like you, Samaritan’s Purse began helping the Rohingya people long before the outbreak. In early December, we delivered 20 tons of medical supplies to Memorial Christian Hospital, our long-time partner in Bangladesh. We also provided funds to build two wards to handle the medical needs of thousands of Rohingya patients.

Diphtheria is an acute, highly contagious bacterial disease causing inflammation of the mucous membranes, difficulty in breathing and swallowing, and potentially fatal heart and nerve damage. Vaccinations have wiped out the disease in the developed nations, but it has so far affected more than 2,000 refugees.

“We anticipate that we will largely be caring for young children,” said Raija-Liisa Schmitt-Teigen, Samaritan’s Purse’s partner and government relations representative in Bangladesh.

“Everyone is very positive about our work here, and we’re getting our staff trained and equipped to start treating people at the center by Dec. 31.”

Knowing how easily diphtheria spreads, Maranatha, who will be working in Bangladesh for most of January, said, “I’ve been vaccinated for it and we know the precautions to take.”

This is Maranatha’s fifth deployment with Samaritan’s Purse. She previously provided medical care in Haiti after a deadly cholera outbreak in 2010, in Ecuador after a 2016 earthquake, and twice at our Emergency Field Hospital in Iraq in 2017.

“Sometimes the work (I do on deployments) is very similar,” Maranatha said. “Cholera involved a lot of rehydrating of patients, and Ecuador involved a lot of casts and pain medication.”

Whatever the situation, the spiritual care is the same, she said. That includes offering to pray with patients, and responding to questions about her Christian faith.

“Jesus met people in their physical and spiritual needs,” Maranatha said. “So even if only a few come to Christ (as a result of Samaritan’s Purse’s medical work in the region), God has still called us to go and heal in Jesus’ Name.”

Whether it’s treating diphtheria patients in Bangladesh or supporting Christian hospitals in Africa, Samaritan’s Purse is committed to using gifts from Canadians like you to help people physically in the name of Jesus Christ—the Great Physician. Please join us with your donations and prayers.

Relief for Refugees and Displaced People - 080671 International Crisis Response

Around the world, millions of people are forced from their homes, communities, or countries due to conflict, persecution, natural disaster, disease, or poverty. Your gift enables Samaritan’s Purse to respond to those affected by this increasing international crisis with assistance such as food, water, shelter, hygiene kits, cooking supplies, medical care, and more. We invite you to partner with us as we continue to respond to urgent needs in Jesus’ Name.