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Women gather in a circle during yoga class at Daryel, a program designed to improve the health and well being of Somali women in King County through massage, yoga, health education and opportunities for socializing. The program, based in Rainer Valley, originated Jan. 2009. The name roughly translates to “wellness” in the Somali language. Harborview nurse Bria Chakofsky-Lewy (wearing turquoise) is called the “mother of Daryel,” by some of the women who attend the sessions.

A few months ago several editors at the paper told me about Daryel, a Somali women’s yoga and health program in Rainier Valley. Daryel was created to improve the health and well being of Somali women in the King County area through massage, yoga, health education and to provide opportunities for socializing.

Andrew Doughman, a previous intern at the paper, started on the story while reporting for UW’s global health reporting class. Doughman, myself and Harborview nurse Bria Chakofsky-Lewy, one of the founders of the program, worked through some of the culturally sensitive concerns on photographing and writing about the group.

Chakofsky-Lewy hosted group conversations with the Daryel’s participants to discuss the benefits and concerns of the article. After discussing the paper’s intentions, possible safety concerns and the parameters of photography, which included modesty due to cultural and religious beliefs, a handful of the women agreed to be in the article.

I photographed multiple sessions to ensure the images were culturally sensitive. As time went on, I learned that certain photos needed to be eliminated from the take after learning that bare feet and leggings shouldn’t show. I also needed to be mindful where the hijab rested on their shoulders. Eventually, I came away with a set of candid images that share their story.

I am grateful to the women Daryel, as well as Chakofsky-Lewy, for sharing their program with our community. Also, I am grateful that our newspaper values the importance of culturally sensitive reporting, allowing Andrew and myself the time needed to do it right.

For a look at additional stories produced by the UW global health reporting class, go to