Pictures can say more than a thousand words. In this case, this viral picture said just enough to garner a gym membership. A 12-year-old Syrian refugee living in Turkey was given a lifetime free gym membership after a photograph of him staring longingly at a fitness facility went viral. Mohammed Khaled is a 12-year-old boy from Syria who works as a shoe shiner in the Adiyaman province in southeastern Turkey.
The image, which was taken by a fellow gym-goer, reached viral status after thousands of people saw the photo of the young boy.
The photo shows Mohammed staring into the gym with a footstool (which he uses in his occupation as a shoe shiner) strapped to his back.
The gym’s owner, Engin Dogan, was notified of the picture and actively looked for the boy in order to offer him a free lifetime membership.
Engin said: ‘a boy [was here] looking through the gym window, wearing slippers in the middle of winter and carrying his [backpack.]’
He continued: ‘our aim was to find him and offer him a lifetime membership here. And, we did it. He is one of our members now.’
It was later revealed that all Mohammed wanted to do was to get a gym membership, work out and to lose weight.
In an interview with the state-run agency, Anadolu, Mohammed said: ‘he found me and helped me. I had always dreamed of losing weight and now I believe I can do that by working out.’
He was later pictured by Anadolu lifting weights and exercising inside of the gym and Mohammed has also said that he is very ‘pleased’ with the opportunity.
During an interview with Turkish newspaper Sabah, one of the gym’s owners, Mustafa Kucukkaya said: ‘it affected me very much because we came from nothing and we did not have such a gym in our time.’
He continued: ‘the Turkish people are very sensitive about this issue, I am very touched. I think we are doing something very good.’