Social media is an unusual place. It can be brutal and delightful in equal measure. A Turkish gym won the hearts of several people after it offered a free lifetime membership to a 12-year-old Syrian refugee after his photo went viral.
The photo, clicked by Turkish photo journalist Mahir Alan, shows Muhammet Halit, a shoe-shiner in Adiyaman, looking longingly through the glass walls of the gym. Halit is armed with his shoe-shining equipment and is wearing a pair of slippers, in the thick of winter.
“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,” state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Engin Dogan, the gym co-owner, as saying.
Halit fled the brutal war in Syria four years ago and has been working as a shoe-shiner ever since. He lives with his father who makes a living by collecting scrap. Halit was thrilled with media attention and said, “I had always dreamed of losing weight and now I believe I can do that by working out,” said the boy.
Here are pictures of Halit working out in the Olympic Sports Center. All images have been used with the permission of Mahir Alan.