Nutrition & Fitness for Immigrant Community

by Darfur Women Network, DWN
Nutrition & Fitness for Immigrant Community
Nutrition & Fitness for Immigrant Community
Nutrition & Fitness for Immigrant Community
Nutrition & Fitness for Immigrant Community
Nutrition & Fitness for Immigrant Community
Nutrition & Fitness for Immigrant Community
Nutrition & Fitness for Immigrant Community
Nutrition & Fitness for Immigrant Community
Nutrition & Fitness for Immigrant Community
Nutrition & Fitness for Immigrant Community
Nutrition & Fitness for Immigrant Community
Nutrition & Fitness for Immigrant Community
Nutrition & Fitness for Immigrant Community
Nutrition & Fitness for Immigrant Community


Darfur Women Network would like to share with you its Nutrition Wellness Syllabus. The course will be for six months. It will consist of lectures and cooking demonstration. The Nutrition program is sponsored by Darfur Women Network, Center for Interfaith Cooperation, Indianapolis Muslim community, and Helpings for Hope. The founder of Helpings for Hope will deliver the lectures and the Darfur Women Network’s coordinator will provide cooking demonstration. The Nutrition education starts tomorrow at9pm at basement of Masjid Alfajir ,Indianapolis,IN.

  • The course will focus on the following topics:
  • Healthy Eating for Ramadan.
  • Healthy Grocery Shopping on a Budget.
  • Nutrition Label Reading.
  • Modify Cultural Recipes for Heart Healthy Options.
  • Heart Healthy Meal Planning
  • Food Portioning for Well-Balanced Nutrition
  • Gardening with Ginny (possible field trip to Nora Community Garden)
  • Canning/Freezing Tips
  • Healthy Benefits of Drinking Water—Good Hydration.
  • Healthy Global Food
  • Healthy Restaurant Eating
  • Graduation Dinner Project

The cooking demonstration will focus on cultural recipes for heart healthy options and substituting ingredients of our traditional food to enable immigrants to prepare healthy meals for their families and for themselves to maintain their healthy lifestyles.

Please check the attached flyer, your feedback is important, please let’s know what do you think?

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                                                                 April 4th, 2016

 Fitness & Nutrition Program Evaluation



 In Fact, nutrition and fitness is important for everybody’s health and well being. However, the majority of immigrant women are facing unique barriers that hinder them from achieving a healthy lifestyle. They do not know how to implement healthy behaviors, such as fitness or healthy eating, in their adopted Indiana home. The Darfur Women Network, DWN, has identified lack of nutritional education, religious obligations and cost restrictions as a few key components that directly relate to the challenges of attaining a healthy lifestyle for immigrant women. Traditional gyms and health coaching programs do not have the resources or ability to provide guidance on how to integrate previous habits or lifestyle restrictions to a new this new American environment.

 The DWN partnered with Center for Interfaith Cooperation which helps with the implementation of the project successfully and its continuation.

 The Nutrition & Fitness program started September 28, 2015 and ended 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.

  The Fairview Presbyterian  Church  provided an 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. 

Human Resources:

All staff was volunteer-based.


  • Renée McCord, Certified Personal Trainer & Certified Nutrition Coach
    REAL Wellness Coaching Programs & Retreats, Founder 
  • Mary Ann Wietbrock, RN MSN ACNS-BC
    Cardinal Elements Inc., Certified fitness trainer with a specialty in nutrition
  • Taysir Ali, Certified Dietician
  • Megan Nibert Intern at CIC,
    Center for Interfaith Cooperation
  • Mastora Bakhiet
    Darfur Women Network, Inc., Executive Director

 Program Goals and Specifics


Immigrant women often experience several challenges maintaining their cardiovascular capacity, flexibility, strength and a healthy body weight. A weekly exercise program offers safe, effective and culturally sensitive opportunities for women to exercise regularly resulting in both a healthy mind and body cohesiveness.


Through the classes, this program offered each participant the following:


  • Opportunity to exercise safely and effectively in a supportive group environment for at least 45 minutes twice a week. The fitness classes included cardiovascular exercise, strength and flexibility training that rely on body weight and require minimal equipment.
  • Support of other women who are experiencing similar barriers with exercise. Exercising in a group provides social support that is a vital component of achieving a healthy lifestyle.
  • Nutritional and Fitness Education that supports the importance for individuals, their families and our community's health.



The nutrition program conducted classes that educated immigrant and local women on how to shop and prepare meals within a budget. The program discussed growing and preserving fruits and vegetables, buying in bulk and planning nutritious meals. It also allowed the participants to practice preparing new recipes in a fully equipped kitchen. Learning in an environment where everyone is starting from the same place creates an atmosphere with an open channel of communication and promotes a spirit of learning from one another. It also encourages participants to continue the program and help to recruit others to take part in future programs. This unique blend of immigrant and local women will create a strong network for DWN to develop and expand other health-based programs.


Expectations & Evaluation Results

  1. The participants will be aware of the impact of healthy meals and fitness on their health. A total of 11 women participated in the program from September 28, 2015 - February 24, 2016 at  our partner, Center for Interfaith Cooperation for fitness, and, Fairview Presbyterian Church for Nutrition.


  1. The immigrant women will learn how to exercise and the importance of exercise. The participants were offered 37 interactive workouts plus education. The workouts included creative cardiovascular options, a variety of strength training options and instructor-led flexibility with progressive intensity and modification as necessary. The group walks outside proved to be a favorite.


  1. Program leaders will measure and record each participant’s baseline weight confidentially with a portable scale at least once a month unless the participant’s goal has nothing to do with weight management. The weight of participants who were in attendance on 9/30/15, 10/28/15, 11/25/15, 12/30/15, 1/18/16 and 2/24/16 was measured and recorded using a basic scale, Renees iPad and Google Sheets.


      A. In addition, since regular exercise as a lifestyle habit is a main goal of the program, participants will measure success by keeping written record of exercise compliance. Participants were encouraged to exercise at least 3/x per week. Two participants kept track of their lifestyle behavior compliance on sheets created and distributed by lead volunteers.


      B. The ultimate measure of success will be if she is reaching the goals that brought her to the program. Many women want to lose weight. However, other important goals may include whether she is getting stronger in daily activities, whether she is able to get up and down off the floor, whether she has increased self-awareness, whether she has improved confidence, and if she making healthier meals for her family. The goals participants chose from at their first assessment were Weight Loss (WL), Regular Exerciser (RE), Nutrition Improvement (NI), Disease Prevention (DP), Increase self-confidence (IS), Social Support (SS), and Healthy Lifestyle for Family (HLF). They chose WL (4), NI (1), DP (3), HLF (2). Note: Not all participants were assessed as we had a few one-time visitors that didnt attend on assessment dates. One participant changed her goal from WL to HLF.


  1. The participants will lose weight gradually and it will be proven via scale. Participants lost in lbs as individuals: 6, 25.6, 2, 1.4, 2.8 for a total of 37.8 lbs as a group. Three participants gained a negligible amount of weight, two of which whose goals were NI and DP. The other participant was a healthy weight at her first assessment and worked hard during the program, in effect probably gaining muscle. Note: One participant only weighed in at the first assessment and had to drop out of program due to medical issues; therefore, her results can not be included in overall group weight results.


  1. The trainees will improve their feeling about themselves because they always postpone their care for themselves. Therefore, this program will raise their self-esteem and their confidence. Over time, regular attenders appeared to increase confidence as evidenced by better body awareness, increased self-initiative in choosing a healthier lifestyle, increased excitement about participating in regular exercise, and improved attitude when experiencing difficult workouts. The giggles, smiles and beads of sweat were strong evidence as well.


  1. They develop intercultural communication skills in the English language and share their cultures. Participants and volunteered showed respect for each others cultures and beliefs, discussing holidays and how these religious observances affected the program schedule. The English language was used on signage and in cuing of exercise and meal prep. The volunteers tried to learn a few basics words from participants. Salaam became the one we could always understand and appreciate.


  1. They will lower their health risks and will build a strong body. Every single participant who attended more than once showed signs of a stronger body per the observation of leaders. Baseline strength data was not officially gathered; however, per Renees observation, all women progressively become stronger evidenced by their need to use heavier weights for the same exercises and/or increase the number of repetitions per set. The women improved in every area: cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance and flexibility. The program results can not assess if health risks were lowered as we did not gather medical information. However, the women who exercised at least 3x a week at a moderate intensity, lost weight, and changed nutrition habits are more likely to have lowered their health risks.


  1. The program, by example, will inspire immigrant women to a healthy lifestyle. At the Festival of Faiths, DWN volunteers helped promote the program by interacting with festival attendees.  Throughout the program, all leaders exemplified a healthy lifestyle and hoped to inspire other women to the do the same. Several participants had already begun to make lifestyle changes prior to the start of the pilot program but were able to learn and grown during the program as well as bring their own experiences to the group to share. It is Renees observation that Mastoras example of leadership in the area of healthy lifestyle changes inspired all of us.


  1. They will improve their healthy lifestyles. This outcome was evident within a month of the program launch.


  1. The participants will learn about different aspects of nutrition and the key roles they play. The participants were offered 12 meals and recipes in an interactive group setting. See more details below.


  1. The participants will learn about different foods in food groups not commonly found in their cultural diets. Under the leadership of Mary Ann, the women prepared and ate together 12 healthy meals with ingredients typically served in the United States in a shared space kitchen of Fairview Presbyterian Church.


  1. The participants will learn to make new meals that branch out from their common meals incorporating more fruits and vegetables and less processed grains and fatty sources of protein. The low-sodium meals incorporated more fruits, vegetables, less processed grains, lean proteins and healthy fats with recipe included.


  1. The participants will network with one another, creating a haven of women supporting one another on their respective roads to a healthier lifestyle. This outcome proved to be perhaps the most rewarding of all. Although it is difficult to quantify, networking certainly did occur between the women of different cultures, religions, ages and backgrounds as evidenced in our exchanging of contact information, sharing of personal life stories and connecting on social media. The most beautiful outcome can certainly be described as havenwhere women who started as strangers become friends in a safe and loving environment. See program photos for proof of networking and support.


  1. The participants will be aware of the impact of healthy meals and fitness on their health. The participants were taught how to read food labels, how to choose healthier ingredients and why to choose them, how to substitute certain traditional ingredients for healthier ones. The nutrition education classes were a collaborative effort. Participants taught the volunteer important nutritional information, too.


Feedback and Testimonials:


  1. From a Partner:

I don't feel like it took a lot of effort to reserve a venue. Fairview was more than willing to be a part of the program and the CIC has been very willing to accommodate us when they could. I have never seen anyone else ever go into that room. I feel very good about the connection. We are partnering with them on other programs too now. I probably put in about five hours a week working on the project. I never heard anyone complain about the program being in the building and using the hallways and stairs. I thought this was an amazing program and I was so happy to be a part of it. I thought the whole program went well. I think in the future finding a permanent spot that is in one building would be beneficial. I would be interested in helping to duplicate the project in any way that I am needed.


  1. From a Coach:

I believe the fitness program went well with good time spent on flexibility, strengthening and endurance. The nutrition program worked well as we pre-planned the menu and items to bring. A recipe was provided with calorie information. We made a healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts. We worked on fitness and nutrition within the context of the womens different cultures. The biggest challenge was having two different locations for the events. Also there was a lag during the holidays due to the buildings being closed. I learned so much from the women, the fitness program, and the nutrition program. We developed and tweaked this program based on weekly feedback and a great multi-dimensional group of leaders. I appreciated all responses and made adjustments as I could. I believe this program has potential but needs a source of funding and one secure dependable spot. Getti Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

 Our dear supporters,

I would like take this opportunity to thank you for your donation and for your support. I am so grateful for your time and your donation. Today, I would like to share with you my story about the impact of our Nutiriton and Fintness program. My story is  Christmas Gift for those who celebrate Christmas and  Gift for those who don't. 

Please, share it with your network and if you have any feedback,please let me know .

Broccoli with Chicken: A Mother’s Story

I am originally from Africa. I am a mother of three children. I came to America when my children were four, six, and eight years old. I had an assumption that everything would be great within one to two years. However, I have been in the USA for over ten years and I am still working to overcome the challenges that I have faced. Let me share with you some challenges related to cultural differences, specifically those regarding my family’s eating habits.

First when my kids were still little they would eat our traditional food and they would enjoyed it. However, when they grew up I observed that the distance between us in eating preferences widened to the point where they were no longer interested in our traditional food. As an immigrant mother, I was worried. I had a discussion with many immigrant mothers and they expressed the same feeling.

I thought about a solution to reunite our kids with us at our dinner table. I was looking for practical and an effective solution. I reflected on my conflict transformation course that I studied at the International Training Institute at Brattleboro, Vermont. Then, I discussed with my kids their need to eat with us. I understood that one of their cultural needs is American food. I thought our need was traditional food. I tried to see if both parties would be willing to compromise. I thought about our nutrition program that focuses on the benefits of helping immigrants to maintain their healthy lifestyles and prepare healthy meals for their families. I understood that it will help immigrants to cook American food to unify the parents and children at the dinner table.

The first dish that Mary Ann, our nutritionist, taught us was broccoli with chicken. When she said that we don’t need to use salt, I was skeptical about eating that dish. However, it was delicious.

I went shopping immediately after the session. It took me less than half an hour to have dinner ready. My kids came with a mindset of having traditional food on our dinner table, but they were surprised that we had different food. They tried it with caution, but then they cheered. They ate and they asked me if they could store it for the next day's lunch. They asked me, “Mom, how do you know how to cook this delicious dish? Is this from your nutrition program?” Then, my husband asked me, “What happened? I have never seen our kids eat and be happy about your cooking like today.”

As a result of this program, I learned that if we work diligently to maintain our healthy lifestyle and cook a healthy meal for our families, we will bring our children back to our dinner table excited.

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Dear friends and supporters,

I would like to share with you information about our Fitness & Nutrition Program to be on the same page as I promised before. On behalf of Darfur Women Network, I would like to thank you for your support. 

This program  focuses on education as the most effective tool to advance knowledge and raise awareness to enhance techniques about health and fitness for immigrant women and their families. Mastora Bakhiet, Darfur Women Network Executive Director, designed the Nutrition & Fitness program to enable immigrant women in Indianapolis to maintain their lifestyles and to prepare healthy meals that bring their children back to the dinner table. She recruits volunteers to conduct the Nutrition & Fitness program through VolunteerMatch.


Healthy International Meals-Cooking Demonstration

Cooking nutritious international meals when living in the Midwestern United States is a bewildering challenge for immigrant mothers. They need to find ways to shop for food that can be used to prepare traditional meals and honor their families’ culture and eating habits.   However, the combination of  nutritious healthy traditional meals and healthy American meals is especially important in helping the immigrant family maintain strong family ties and healthy lifestyles by eating together at the dinner table and avoiding unhealthy fast food.


The Darfur Women Network has partnered with The Center for Interfaith Cooperation (CIC) and Immigrant Welcome Center to implement this program. All women are welcome to attend to learn about nutritious recipes indigenous to more than 20 countries and the Midwestern United States.


The American food preparation and nutrition classes started on Monday, November 9, 2015 at the Fairview Presbyterian Church Kitchen and community room. The class take place every Monday from 1:30 to 3:30 pm through the next six months. At the first class, participants cooked broccoli with chicken. All agreed that the meal was delicious and healthy, and it brought together some immigrant families with their children at dinner tables. Mary AnnWietbrock, a registered nurse who specializes in nutrition and exercise, leads the healthy American food preparation part of the program.


The traditional food modification workshop will take place on Saturdays, but hasn’t started yet due to our lack of fund. The workshop will provide shopping, cooking information and hands-on kitchen experience to women who came to America as adults. The workshop’s goal is to help the immigrant mothers maintain their cultural nutritional and eating habits and prepare healthy American food for their children to unify them with the adults at the dinner table. Taysir Ali, a nutritionist from an immigrant family, will teach this workshop.



The Center for Interfaith Cooperation is providing Darfur Women Network with space to conduct fitness workshops on Wednesdays from 2:30 to 4:30 pm. The workshops teaches a variety of low-stress exercises that include weight-lifting and stationary machines. Renee McCord, a professional trainer, leads the workshop to help diverse women, Americans and immigrants to maintain their lifestyles. The workshop started on September 28, 2015.

Please check this link.

For spport,please check this link:

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Hello Donors and Friends,

 On behalf of Darfur Women Network (DWN), I would like to thank you for your support and your generous donation. I also want to update you about our Nutrition & Fitness Program as I promised you.

 We are excited to announce Darfur Women Network has partnered with the Center for Interfaith Cooperation (CIC) to launch the Fitness & Nutrition Program now available as of September 28, 2015.  

 DWN, CIC, Immigrant Welcome Center and Purdue Extension are working collectively to secure more resources and extend the Fitness & Nutrition program with the goal of reaching our diverse community here in Indianapolis.

 The CIC is providing the program access to their gym and fitness equipment including exercise machines, a room for yoga and walking track as well as program-related resources and connections. Our current fitness segment to the Fitness & Nutrition Program is available 2 to 3 times a week.

 Beginning October 2015, we launched the nutrition segment of the Fitness & Nutrition Program in coordination with nutrition classes directed by volunteer fitness trainers and nutritionists to benefit immigrant mothers. The nutritionist, Mary Ann, started her nutrition session with teaching immigrants how to read the nutrition facts on the food’s label. This raises awareness and knowledge about the nutritious ingredients that should be in healthy meals and it helps with shopping strategy.

 Purdue Extension's staff is providing access to nutrition education materials, a kitchen and nutritionist for the immigrant women to learn how to prepare healthy meals for their families and encourage healthy lifestyle options.


In addition to the above mentioned amenities, other various resources are now available including community gardening and leadership training, cultural bridge-building, disaster preparation and a youth program.

 For more information about volunteering or participation for the Fitness & Nutrition Program, please contact us online at

 Please visit our social media to “Like” us, comment, and share our information with your network.








Thank you so much.



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Organization Information

Darfur Women Network, DWN

Location: Indianapolis, IN - USA
Darfur Women Network, DWN
Mastora Bakhiet
Project Leader:
Mastora Bakhiet
Indianapolis, IN United States

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