Meet Our Team!

OUR FOUNDERS:

ANNE MEREWOOD, PHD, MPH

Director, CHEERing

Background: As the director of CHEER in Greece, Dr. Merewood oversees CHEERing’s work in infant nutrition and maternal-child health services to mothers, infants, and families in the Skaramagas, Oinofyta, and Eleonas refugee camps, and the Elna Maternity Center. Dr Merewood also directs CHEER, the Center for Health Equity, Education, and Research, at the Boston University School of Medicine, and the Communities and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices (CHAMPS) project, an initiative that promotes best practices in maternity care, increases breastfeeding rates, decreases racial and ethnic disparities, and supports hospitals to adopt the World Health Organization’s Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and gain Baby-Friendly designation.

Experience: Dr. Merewood is an Associate Professor Pediatrics at the Boston University School of Medicine and an Associate Professor of Community Health Sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health. She has served as the Director of the Breastfeeding Center at Boston Medical Center and as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Human Lactation, as well as Consultant to the US Department of Health and Human Service’s Indian Health Service.

AIRINIE H. AZHAR, BSC

National Director, CHEERing

Background: An infant nutrition and education specialist, Airinie directs the CHEERing program onsite in Greece, and visits mothers of young infants in refugee camps, shelters and community centres, weighing, measuring and tracking infants’ growth on a weekly basis. She also leads educational sessions and trainings for refugee women about breastfeeding, sexual health, nutrition, and infant development, and supervises CHEERing’s volunteers in Greece.

Experience: Airinie is currently studying for her MPH (Master in Public Health) and has worked as a Finance & IT Manager and as a Guardian for Unaccompanied Minors in Greece. She is an active food and lifestyle blogger and an amateur photographer. She has been involved with working with refugee populations in Greece since 2015.

OUR MANAGEMENT TEAM:

MARIAM TUMA, MSC, BA

Program Manager, CHEERing

Background: Mariam is currently completing a Masters of Science in Socio-Ecological Economics and Policy at the University of Vienna. Originally from Iraq, she is fluent in Arabic and English. She also speaks intermediate German. She has spent the past five years working in the field of refugee aid and support. 

Experience: Mariam has over five years of experience working with refugees and migrants in Athens, London, and Vienna. With a focus on the empowerment of vulnerable groups, she has taken part in inclusive initiatives and projects which aim to promote the voices, needs and desires of these groups. She has worked as a site manager in Athens at a shelter for vulnerable women and children, which also functions as a day-centre open to all refugees and migrants. Further to this, she operated as a case worker for ATLAS, a platform dedicated to the aiding of LGBT+ migrants and refugees in Athens. She has designed numerous volunteer handbooks and trainings attempting to minimise malpractice and exploitation, whilst attempting to promote cultural understanding. 

LENA PLOUMI, MSC, BSC

Health Manager & Data Protection Officer, CHEERing

Background: Lena is currently a student in the “Global Health – Disaster Medicine” Master’s program at the Kapodistrian University of Athens. She is also taking a continuing education course on “Mental Health and Wellbeing of Children and Adolescents”. She recently graduated from the School of Public Health of West Attica University, with a degree in Public and Community Health. She was a participant in EDUVAC, an intensive Erasmus+ course on vaccinations in Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Finland. She speaks Greek, English and German.

Experience: Lena has experience in clinical practice on Maternity and Child Healthcare Stations in Athens, Greece. As a result of her studies she has experience in health promotion in the community, both in the field of vaccination and breastfeeding. She has also been working voluntarily with refugee populations in Greece since 2016.

OUR PEER COUNSELLORS:

PIERRETTE IMPOSE IYAKA

Breastfeeding Peer Counsellor and Interpreter, CHEERing

Background: Pierrette works with CHEERing as a breastfeeding peer counsellor, as well as a French and Lingala interpreter. Pierrette came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to Greece as a refugee and has settled in Athens with her child and husband. Pierrette works at all of CHEERing’s clinic locations, and has provided intensive support at Elna Maternity Center in Athens, where exclusive breastfeeding rates have risen as a result of her work. 

Experience: Pierrette studied Nursing for three years in the DRC and had internships at various health institutions, including the Red Cross Hospital, Kinshasa General Hospital, and Mother & Child Center of Kinshasa.

LEILA MAHBUBI

Refugee Peer Counsellor Trainee and Interpreter, CHEERing

Background: Leila assists with height and weight measurements in Elna’s shelter and serves as a translator for Persian languages.

Experience: Leila is from Iran, where she studied pharmacy and architecture at the university and worked as a pharmacist’s assistant and technician in a hospital pharmacy. In this role, she assisted the pharmacists with medication dispensation and preparation of prescriptions.

OUR CURRENT VOLUNTEERS:

YILDIZ GUMUSTEKIN

Volunteer, CHEERing

Background: Yildiz is a social worker and volunteer for CHEERing.

Experience: Yildiz has served as a social worker for the UN IOM Turkey MHPSS Team, as an intern for the Portugal Refugee Council and for the Probation Office, Turkey-Yalova, and as a volunteer for the Team for Youth Association, Romania-Baia Mare.

OUR ERASMUS+ STUDENTS:

RANA SABREEN, BSC

Erasmus+ Intern, CHEERing

Background: Rana obtained a degree in Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Chemistry from Al-Baath University in Homs, Syria. She is currently completing a Masters in Public Health in Disasters through the Erasmus Program at the University of Nicosia. Rana speaks Arabic and English.

Experience: Rana has four years of experience volunteering with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, where she worked as a Medical Logistics Officer prior to enrolling in her current Masters Program. At the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, Rana worked in camps for IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) as a hygiene promoter and as part of a health assessment team for more than a year.

MARINA MENCHINI, BSC

Erasmus+ Intern, CHEERing

Background: Marina is a recent graduate in Human Nutrition at the University of Pisa. She has a bachelor’s Degree in Herbal Sciences and TEFL certificate for English teaching. She speaks English, Italian and Spanish.

Experience:  Marina has worked for The Protection System of Asylum Seekers and Refugees (SPRAR) of Lucca, Italy. She hosted nutrition courses for beneficiaries and volunteered as an interpreter. For her training as a nutritionist, she has interned in the canteen of the University of Pisa, helping in meal planning and promoting healthy eating.