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Hannah Banares: changing lives one Zumba class at a time

OFWs are known to be masters of juggling their professional life, their personal life in the Philippines, and other extra-curricular activities while abroad. Doing those things religiously is not an easy task, but it does give them a sense of purpose and a chance to make their mark in a different country other than their own.

Hannah Banares, 46, is a performer and artist in the prestigious Global Village. She is also a mom of a teenager, a Zumba dancer, instructor, and group founder. She spends most of her days here in the UAE maximizing her God-given talent — which is dancing.

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With a goal to work and earn money for her daughter’s studies and needs, Hannah braved the waves and decided to come to the UAE five years ago. She has worked in several fields: as a photo editor and photoshoot assistant in a studio, and as a data processor in a medical laboratory.

As a fitness enthusiast, Hannah goes to the Union Park every morning to do her daily workout. Way back in 2020, she had a goal to improve her health and enjoy the park’s relaxing atmosphere, but the park had something more in store for her. She saw homeless people taking shelter in the park, which made her heart melt in an instant.

“I’m only doing my fitness exercise at Union Park. Every morning I go there for an exercise but my heart melts every time I see homeless people at the park. I thought to myself, how can I help them? I was also stranded here in the UAE and didn’t have any work during that time, and my flight home was cancelled because of the pandemic. I asked God how can I help those people. I asked for a sign and He gave me one, which is my talent. The next day I messaged our fitness coach that I want to help those homeless people at the park through dancing,” Hannah said.

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That normal day for her immediately turned into something special — in that very spot, she found a calling to help the needy. She wanted to teach a Zumba dance class to everyone who wanted to join, especially those homeless people, without having to pay her. As a founder of that fitness dance group, she went beyond her initial goal to improve the health of these people, she also sees to it that she can feed them before their morning and evening fitness classes start.

Even with her busy schedule performing in shows in Global Village from 4pm to 10pm, she still manages to meet with her Zumba group afterwards, until 12midnight. On top of this, she never fails to call her family in the Philippines during the day.

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“Dancing is my passion, so I’m not tired when it comes to dancing. I can manage my time. I feel weak if I can’t dance in a day,” Hannah said.

However, building her own dance group wasn’t always easy. She encountered different challenges in handling people of different nationalities and cultures. “As a founder of this group, I need to stand as a leader. I need to listen to each and every one of them. I always tell them we are here not just for camaraderie but to help those people in need,” she explained.

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Standing firm in her principles, Hannah strives hard to make significant change in these people’s lives, while also having the chance to still do her one true passion in dancing.

She’s one of the many women that we commend as we celebrate the International Women’s Month this 2023.

Related story: Women’s Month Inspiration: 10 Quotes to Ignite your Empowerment and Fuel your Success 

Lianne Micah Asidera

Lianne is a reporter at The Filipino Times. She was a news correspondent for the Provincial Government of Bataan in the Philippines. Lianne takes pleasure in winning over readers' hearts by featuring impactful stories that matter to both the Filipino and global readers of The Filipino Times. Want to share your story? Reach Lianne on Facebook: www.facebook.com/liyanstar or send your story at: [email protected]

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