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Turkish gym gives 12-year-old Syrian refugee lifetime membership following heartbreaking photo Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Turkish gym gives 12-year-old Syrian refugee lifetime membership following heartbreaking photo

Khaled can now work out in the gym for free [Twitter]

Date of publication: 10 January, 2018

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A Syrian boy who works as a shoe shiner in Turkey has been given lifetime membership for a gym, after a photo broke hearts across the country.
A Syrian boy has been given lifetime membership at his local Turkish gym, after a heartbreaking photo went viral in the country this week.

The image showed 12-year-old Mohammed Khaled, who works as a shoeshiner in Adıyaman province in south-eastern Turkey, peering into the window of a gym.

Taken by one of the gym regulars, Khaled's image - showing him with a foot stool strapped to his back - soon spread across social media in Turkey.

The gym's owner Engin Dogan found the boy and offered him lifetime membership after Khaled revealed his wish was to work out at the gym and loose weight.

"A boy, looking through the gym window, wearing slippers in the middle of winter and carrying his bagpack... Our aim was to find him and offer him a lifetime membership here," Dogan said. "And, we did it. He is one of our members now."

Khaled was later pictured at the gym lifting weights and said he was happy with the opportunity, state-run Anadolu agency reported to work out.

"He found me and helped me," Khaled said.

"I had always dreamed of losing weight and now I believe I can do that by working out."

Over 2 million Syrians live in Turkey having fled the fighting and bombing at home. Many live in poverty and children have been forced into work in Turkey to help support their families.

Human Rights Watch reported that as many as 40 percent of Syrian children are not attending school, while 380,000 living in Turkey instead work in factories, farms and in other areas of the grey economy.

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