Syrian shoe-polisher in viral photo gets life-time gym membership

A Syrian shoe polisher, whose photo of watching gym-goers train from the pavement went viral, was given life-time membership of the club, Turkey's Doğan News Agency (DHA) reported.


Muhammet Hüseyin, a 12-year-old Syrian refugee, was earning money by polishing shoes in the southeastern province of Adıyaman when he briefly paused on Sunday to watch people doing sports at the local gym, DHA wrote. .

The photo of that moment, of him carrying the tools of his trade but wearing just slippers, was shared by a gym member on social media and prompted Engin Doğan, the owner of the business, to track him down, DHA said.

Hüseyin said he left Syria because of the war and is happy that he was given the free membership. “They found me and are now helping me to lose weight,” he said.

There are more than 3.4 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, according to the latest data from the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR. Twenty-one percent are under the age of 18.

A report prepared by Turkey’s main opposition Republican People's Party says only a small proportion of the Syrian children are living in temporary refugee camps set up by the Turkish government.

A Turkish workers’ union, DISK, says living conditions in Turkey force Syrian children to work in industry and agriculture.