Some volunteers and I designed a nutrition and fitness pilot program that focuses on women (immigrants from our host community) to work collectively to encourage them to overcome their challenges. The barriers that hinder them from accomplishing a healthy lifestyle are the lack of awareness about important of healthy eating and cooking healthy meals because they lack nutritional education.
In addition, religious obligation prohibits them from exercising while men are present and the monthly gym membership is unaffordable for low-income families.
The nutrition & fitness program started on September 28, 2015 and ended on February 24, 2016. The instructors provided 62 sessions at a total cost of $6000 (including fuel donated by the staff). The borrowed fitness materials and equipment totaled to $1,365.00. Additional equipment supplied by Center for Interfaith Cooperation (CIC) was not quantifiable. In addition, the equipped kitchen and a classroom as well as utilities were provided at no cost. The volunteers who participated in different stages of this project donated 590 hours.
The CIC helped arrange the use of the venue, exercise equipment and funded some of the ingrédients for nutrition sessions. CIC assigned an intern to reserve rooms for exercise and to facilitate any communication with others in the building. Additionally, the CIC secured an open kitchen with cooking equipment and a room for exercise at the Fairview Presbyterian Church at no cost.
We evaluated our pilot project and the result was showed that the project was successful and it inspired us to proceed.
What the women achieved was way beyond their original goal. Some lost a remarkable amount weight, some lost few pounds, and some didn’t lose or gain anything. However, we were confident and our self-esteem increased.
The unexpected achievement was that we had a deep discussion that led to self-discovery. We realized that we have never considered ourselves as one of our family members. Family members whom we take care of for years.
We help them with their needs, but we have never fulfill our needs. We have never had any support from all or some of our family members to have time for ourselves to exercise or to learn about healthy food to improve our health.
After the end of our successful program, we are hope to start our fitness program immediately to work on our challenges, to change our cultures to make exercise one of our important habits, and to learn different choice of healthy food and healthier lifestyles without jeopardizing our religious obligations.
Since April2016 to present, we have knocked on many doors looking for a location an exercise facility that has privacy and is separated from men and exercise or fitness classes that can be implemented while still wearing preferred traditional religious garments.
We hoped that our project could be funded by our Globalgiving partners. In addition, we failed to secure facilities or funds. We are a small organization and we do not have anyone to help us with our grant search and grant proposal writing.
Our most difficult challenges are having facilities, a paid fitness coach, insurance, and some materials and equipment.
The horrible consequences of not having our program are that we are gaining weight, lose hope and confidence. We have not adapted culture or an exercise habit yet.
We fail to continue exercising in a group to encourage each other. We are looking forward to any great idea to help us to learn from our failure to resume to our lovely project to be a great example for other women to change their lives for the better. The important question for Darfur Women Network and its supporters and to GlobalGiving is, how do we keep the social impact that already project(s) had on the beneficiaries? Then, we can think about maximization of the impact.