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Gym gives Syrian child refugee free lifetime membership after photo shows him staring longingly through window

The Independent logo The Independent 10/01/2018 Lydia Smith

A young Syrian refugee has been given a lifetime membership at his local gym after a photo of him gazing through the window at the fitness equipment went viral.

Mohammed Khaled, 12, who works as a shoeshiner in Adiyaman province, southern Turkey, was pictured outside the centre with a footstool strapped to his back.

After the image spread across social media in Turkey, gym owner Engin Dogan tracked the boy down and offered him an all-access pass to the facility.

Speaking to Hurriyet News, Mr Dogan said: “A boy, looking through the gym window, wearing slippers in the middle of winter and carrying his backpack.

“Our aim was to find him and offer him a lifetime membership here. And, we did it.

“He is one of our members now.”

Khaled was later pictured working out at the gym and told the Turkish news agency Anadolu he was pleased with the opportunity.

“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.”

Mustafa Kucukkaya, one of the gym's owners, told Turkish newspaper Sabah: “It affected me very much because we came from nothing and we did not have such a gym in our time.

"The Turkish people are very sensitive about this issue, I am very touched, I think we are doing something very good."

The gym owners have been praised on social media for their good deed.

One user wrote on Instagram: "Keep inspiring the world. What goes around comes around."

Around 3.3 million Syrian refugees are registered to be living in Turkey, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.

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