Sawson* and Fatima* became friends through our Women's Fitness Classes in Iraq. The photo shows them getting their temperatures taken as well as using hand sanitizer. Due to new strands of Covid-19, our women’s fitness class continues to wear masks and limit the number of participants. After trying splitting the class into two groups, each having class for 2 days a week, we have decided to rejoin the class into one group as the participants really felt more benefit from consistent exercise three days a week.
26 year old twin sisters, Nuhad* and Jamela* were often told that they were fat and unattractive. A few years ago they started coming to our fitness classes and felt really encouraged that they were beautiful that their actions and lives mattered. Around a year and a half ago, their mother tragically passed away. During the time of mourning, other participants, fitness leaders, and project coordinators came to visit their family and encourage them. Both Nuhad and Jamela felt supported, that they were genuinely cared for, that we shared in their sorrow in the midst of this difficult circumstance. Due to the closeness of their relationship with their mother, culturally these girls mourned for a year, not going out even to a fitness class. Now the twins are excited to be able to again join the fitness classes again and see their friends who supported them through their grief.
Previously Shireen* was isolated and lonely in her house and wouldn’t go out much. Through fitness she has found more purpose in life and has become confident and content in all she does: whether cleaning, cooking, or caring for her children. The friends Shireen has made through fitness classes have inspired her to return to her passion for acting. Now she is often acting in films and TV dramas! Some neighbors have told Shireen she doesn’t need to go to fitness class anymore as she has lost weight and is thin. Yet she wants to attend fitness because of the purpose she feels and the encouragement she receives. While she also walks, Shireen hopes that women’s fitness project will continue as it is a safe place for women to meet and encourage each other.
*Not the participants real names.