Sara could feel the beat before she saw the action.
She walked into a packed room with women of all shapes and sizes dancing to heart-thumping music. The instructor had an infectious energy and welcomed everyone to participate – even a nervous first-timer like Sara. It felt more like a dance party than a workout class!
Zumba is a Latin-inspired dance workout that’s one of the most popular exercise classes in the world – and one of the most popular activities at our Youth Center in the Za’atari Refugee Camp.
When 28 year-old Sara first came to the camp, she was out of shape and tired all the time. Even walking a short distance would leave her exhausted. Like many refugee women, she suffered from obesity and other chronic health conditions because of a lack of healthy food choices and few opportunities for physical exercise in the camp. The mental and spiritual toll of being a refugee also left her feeling like she was running on fumes.
Participating in Zumba changed Sara’s life. She started attending class every week and explored the many other sports activities offered at our Youth Center – like soccer, treadmills, and free weights. This not only gave her the chance to stay active – it also gave her the chance to meet new people and make friends.
Our fitness classes for women are the first of their kind in Za’atari Camp. These classes are designed and led by women living in the camp. Women who attend tell us they have found a safe, comfortable, and accessible space where they can build relationships with other women over a common goal of becoming healthier in body, mind, and spirit.
As Sara continued to attend Zumba and other exercise classes, her confidence grew. She met new friends and mentors who encouraged her growth. Today, Sara works as a sports trainer with a neighbor organization in the camp and helps lead others in their healing and growth, just as her instructors did for her.
At Questscope, we rely on the expertise of our Syrian volunteers to maintain the positive and nurturing environment of our Youth Center. It is our goal to build the capacity of our team and empower them to be agents of change in their communities.
Syrians are the driving force of reweaving the fabric of their communities. Our health and wellness initiatives are just one example of how we invest in the leadership and wellbeing of our primary resource – people.