Since moving to the Kurdish region of Iraq in 2015, Operation Mercy has been serving Syrian refugees in the region. Our men’s fitness program (Keystone) was started to meet men’s physical and emotional needs. Many of the men are living in vulnerable environments who struggle with inactivity, smoking, obesity, high levels of stress, hypertension, diabetes, heart problems, depression, loneliness, and an inability to enjoy life. The program offered the participants a chance to exercise together, have fun playing Frisbee, discuss a variety of topics in discussion groups, and build deep relationships with one another.
Alend is a 26-year-old man who joined our Keystone project in Iraq in March of 2021. When Alend first participated in our training he was working as a volunteer for an international aid organization a few days a week. He was struggling with anxiety, difficulties with sleeping, and obesity. A few months of consistent attendance of our program helped him to lose some weight, improve his sleep, and reduce his anxiety.
“Playing Frisbee and participating in the focused discussions has helped me to live a healthy life. I have lost so much weight because of exercising and eating healthily. Frisbee has become my favorite sport!” Alend says.
Alend still works for the same organization, but not as a volunteer anymore - he is being paid and works as a project coordinator. One project he is currently coordinating is called “Frisbee training”!
“I liked our Frisbee games so much and I enjoyed our discussions as well. I thought that this training should be done in other places too, not only in Domiz 1. Therefore, I proposed the idea to our NGO and we all agreed to start the project! Thank you Keystone because without you I would have never thought about starting such a project!” Alend has started the Frisbee training project in Duhok in October 2021 and there are 8 participants attending!