At Keystone, men and boys get together twice a week to exercise and discuss the issues of daily life. One of Keystone’s long-time participants, Qais, describes it as “a place where you gain strength and broaden your mind.”

Members of Keystone pose for a photo before a session.

At each meeting, the instructor first leads the group in a discussion.  This not only serve as a break from the intense exercise, but also catalyzes conversation between the attendees: “We discuss many social and personal skills—we even discussed the topic of raising our kids. . . . the seminars are my favorite part, which go hand-in-hand with the exercises,” Qais said.

Back in Iraq, Qais had a passion for football and weightlifting. When he arrived to Jordan, however, Qais became occupied with establishing his life in a new environment, causing him to de-prioritize his commitment to football and weightlifting.

Qais, a participant in Keystone.

“I was in a country that wasn’t mine,” he said. This is where Keystone comes in, bringing Syrian, Iraqi, and Jordanian men together to exercise, helping them become comfortable with each other, and solidifying their bonds and friendships through the meaningful conversations that they have. Keystone was able to successfully bring Qais back to athleticism,  so much so, in fact, that “I brought my son with me to Keystone, and when it stopped meeting for the month Ramadan, my son and I started to jog around in my home—in the corridor and in the rooms,” he recalled.

Keystone’s atmosphere is cheerful and fulfilling, raising the men’s self-esteem and at the same time, expanding their awareness about many topics—which helps them acclimate to the difficult nature of being a refugee.

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