Meet the CHEERing Team!

ANNE MEREWOOD, PhD, MPH

Executive Director and Founder

As the director of CHEER in Greece, Dr. Merewood oversees and manages CHEERing’s work at all levels. 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.

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 consults for the World Health Organization, and a former consultant to the US Department of Health and Human Service’s Indian Health Service.

AIRINIE H. AZHAR, MPH

National Director and Founder

An infant nutrition and education specialist with a Masters in Public Health, Airinie directs all aspects of the CHEERIng administration as well as several programmatic aspects. She leads educational sessions and trainings for beneficiaries about breastfeeding, sexual health, nutrition, and infant development.

Originally from Malaysia, Airinie has her Masters 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.

MARIANNA IGOUMENIDOU, BA

Administrator and Project Manager

Marianna has a bachelors degree in English from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Greek is her native language and she is fluent in English and Spanish. Since University, she has worked as an English tutor in language institutions, and a teacher of private lessons for children and adults. In June 2016 she moved to Dubai, UAE, where she worked as a flight attendant for Emirates Airlines for four years. During this time, she travelled all over the world, meeting people from different cultural backgrounds and visiting new places. She has always been interested in helping people, especially children, and has visited and assisted in orphanages in Africa, Bangladesh and Kolkata while being a flight attendant.

Marianna runs the administrative day to day operations of CHEERing, and oversees volunteer recruitment and management.

DANNI SCALES, BSC

ERASMUS Entrepreneur

Danni is a recent graduate of Nutraceuticals for Health and Nutrition from TU Dublin, where her dissertation focused on maternal food security and nutrition among displaced people. Danni has 5 years of experience working as a special needs assistant in Dublin, Ireland, and previously volunteered in Greece with FoodKIND, where she designed supplementary mothers’ food packs for pregnant women and new mothers, work which has driven her passion for supplemental nutrition.

Danni is CHEERing’s Erasmus Entrepreneur. She assists with football coaching and leads nutrition-based activities at CHEERing, while learning how to become an independent Entrepreneur.

PIERRETTE IMPOSE IYAKA

Grow Clinic Peer Counsellor and Interpreter

Pierrette works with CHEERing as a breastfeeding peer counsellor and 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 children 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. 

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.

FARZANA HAKIMI

Director, CHEERing girls’ football program

Grow Clinic Peer Counsellor, Interpreter

Farzana directs the girls’ team program in our Barca Foundation-funded/OE Futbolnet project, and coordinates the Football Fit and Grow Clinics at Malakasa camp. She is also a peer counselor and Farsi translator for CHEERing.

Farzana has a mathematics diploma, and studied first aid and pharmacology in Iran.

FERAYDON RAHIMI

Director, CHEERing Football Club

Football Program Director and Head Coach, CHEERing

Fereidon Rahimi is from Afghanistan, and lived in Iran for 38 years. He directs the CHEERing Football Club and manages the CHEERing Futbolnet program and coaches, where is he also head coach.

He studied literature and has been involved with football for over 25 years as a player, referee and coach.

PAPY KUYOWA NDOTONI

Executive Assistant, Interpreter, and Cultural Mediator

Experience: Originally from DRC, Papy studied pedagogy at school and further studies in commercial sciences. He has worked in his father’s farm 2008-15 was a sales negotiator. He speaks, English, French, Lingala, and is learning Greek.

DR. MARIAM JAFFER, MBBS, BSc

Clinical Program Lead

Mariam graduated from University College London Medical School in 2019 with an MBBS in Medicine and a BSc in Medical Sciences with Global Health. She has two years of experience working as a junior doctor in South London across specialties including Paediatrics, Psychiatry and Emergency Medicine. During medical school she also led a voluntary project coaching girls’ football. She is currently involved in research focused on migrant access to healthcare, and as a coordinator for Medact’s Race & Health Justice group she organises a series of reading groups. Her interests lie in child health and health disparities affecting minority populations. She is intending to undertake an MPH next year.

At CHEERing, Mariam leads the clinical program, overseeing our preventive health work and training volunteers and staff on clinical standards of care.

MARIA INES SILVA, BSc

ERASMUS Intern

Maria has a degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Lisbon School of Health Technology in Lisbon, Portugal. Her Bachelor’s thesis focused on integrative approaches on weight management and the importance of considering psychological, behavioural, environmental and social factors and expectations in nutrition interventions.


Maria’s work with refugees and migrants started in January 2022, but she engaged in volunteering work for the first time in 2018. She worked with Refood in Portugal, supporting food insecure families accessing hot meals and in Summer camps supervising children and teenagers in their activities. Her internship in CHEERing is her first international work experience. She speaks fluent Portuguese and English. She is passionate about improving individuals’ life quality, promoting food literacy, reducing food waste and enabling sustainable diets.

Volunteer

Maria João holds a Master’s Degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Porto, Portugal, and has over 2 years of experience as a Community Pharmacist. During her time as a pharmacy student, she collaborated with research groups from Portugal and Sweden, and participated in several social inclusion projects. She previously volunteered in Greece with Open Cultural Center (OCC), where she developed cultural and educational activities for refugees and asylum seekers.

She joined CHEERing as a volunteer, hoping to contribute with her skills and knowledge as a pharmacist to the projects carried out by the organization.

Volunteer

Molly is a 3rd year medical student studying at the University of Sheffield with a special interest in women’s health, especially in the context of refugee and migrant health. She is currently volunteering with CHEERing as part of a student-selected module to gain experience in an area future speciality and intends to return in Autumn 2022.

Experience: Molly has previously held the position of trustee for a charity working for the rights of women and children in Tanzania, and has varied experience with multiple NGOs and activist groups. This experience spans a United Nations volunteering scheme writing project proposals for NGO fundraising worldwide, to work locally with young people affected by youth violence in the community. She is an active member of multiple student activism groups, which advocate for women’s rights, and access to healthcare locally.

RANA SABREEN, BSC

Pharmaceutical Expert Consultant

Rana has a degree in Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Chemistry from Al-Baath University in Homs, Syria. She recently completed her Masters in Disaster Management with the University of Nicosia, Cyprus, and is currently completing a Masters in Toxicology in Germany. Rana has four years of experience volunteering with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, where she worked as a Medical Logistics Officer, and in camps for IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) as a hygiene promoter and as part of a health assessment team for more than a year.  

Rana worked for CHEERing onsite in Athens for 6 months in 2020/21 and now volunteers for us remotely from Germany, specializing in medication-related questions and Arabic translation.

ALINA HAMKAR, MD

Volunteer

Alina holds an MD degree from Afghanistan. After the 15th of August 2021 crisis in Afghanistan she evacuated Afghanistan and moved to Greece with her parents.

Experience: Alina worked as a Junior Doctor volunteer for one year in Afghanistan. Currently, she works in Acupuncturists Without Border at Alma Center in Athens as a Farsi interpreter. She is fluent in Farsi-Dari and English. At CHEERing she accompanies the team to Grow Clinics, provides medical feedback, and offers translation services.

LENA PLOUMI, MSc, BSc

Health Manager & Data Protection Officer

Lena attended CHEERing’s first ever training session, and was our first volunteer! Now she oversees compliance with data management at CHEERing as well as other volunteer duties.

Experience: Lena recently graduated from the Global Health Masters program at the Kapodistrian University of Athens. She completed her undergraduate degree at the School of Public Health of West Attica University, 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.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.

SANA ADEL IBRAHIM

Volunteer

Sana, who has a degree in computer engineering, decided to pursue her passion in humanitarian and community development field four years ago, to “help people to make the world a better place”. She has engaged with women’s empowerment and supporting underprivileged children while volunteering and working with NGOs in Iraq. Here in Greece she is “on a mission to help the refugees while volunteering with CHEERing, the Red Cross, and Glocal Roots.”

Team Leader

Isabel is a graduate of Philosophy, Politics and Economy, currently studying a master’s in social Integration and Intervention with population at risk of social exclusion, focusing on the prevention of gender-based violence, cultural mediation, and no borders activism.

Experience:  Isabel has over 3 years’ experience as field coordinator in a shelter for pregnant women and their families (Elna Maternity Center, in Athens, Greece) carrying out the tasks of volunteers’ team coordinator, social media and networking, legal assessment for asylum seekers, cultural mediation while she is responsible for the empowerment and psycho-social support programs. She is involved in different local projects supporting vulnerable collectives and migrant population.

LAMPRINI MAMMATA, BA

Volunteer

Lamprini has a degree in History and Archeology from the University of Ioannina, Greece, and she recently completed her master in Reading, Literacy and Educational Material from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.


Experience: She has eight years of experience in teaching philological courses in schools, educational organizations and giving private lessons to children. Since September 2018, as a volunteer of the Hellenic Red Cross, she has started her involvement with intercultural education by giving non-formal lessons of the Greek language to children and teenagers. Since September 2021 she has taught the Greek language to adults in Echohub Athens.
Lamprini is a CHEERing volunteer who coaches our Beautiful Girls football team at Malakasa camp and she, also, gives Greek lessons to refugee adults.

MARIAM TUMA, MSc, BA

Volunteer

Mariam spent many months working with CHEERing in Athens, before completing a Masters of Science in Socio-Ecological Economics and Policy at the University of Vienna, then moving to take up a position with the Red Cross in Scotland. . 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. 

YILDIZ GUMUSTEKIN

Volunteer

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.