In refugee camp settings, women are especially prone to physical inactivity, isolation, high stress, and depression. Women report spending most of their time within their small homes and tents and are at higher risk for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, colon and breast cancer, and depression according to the World Health Organization. Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality. Camps lack the availability of resources for physical fitness and health education.
In 2018, Operation Mercy successfully provided regular fitness classes in two Syrian refugee camps. Throughout 2019, we seek to continue to offer 3 to 4 classes per week per location, directly impacting the lives of approximately 200 Syrian refugee women. The classes will mainly be Zumba dance classes and sometimes include a short input on topics related to physical, relational, mental, and spiritual health combined with weekly follow up on the growth of each individual.
The project coordinator, staff, and volunteers will visit participants in their homes to help facilitate the growth of community and support groups. We will continue to invest in our staff and volunteers through training to increase the quality of the program, raise up more stakeholders and have a deeper impact in their lives. In 2019, we plan to explore ways to increase the sustainability of the program and help empower women to become change agents in their communities.