Meet Our Team!

OUR FOUNDERS:

ANNE MEREWOOD, PHD, MPH

Executive Director, CHEERing

Background: As the director of CHEER in Greece, Dr. Merewood oversees CHEERing’s training program, and work in infant nutrition and maternal-child health services to mothers, infants, and families with Attika area refugee camps, and the Elna Maternity Center in Athens. 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, MPH

National Director, CHEERing

Background: An infant nutrition and education specialist with a Masters in Public Health, 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. 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 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.

OUR MANAGEMENT TEAM:

MARIANNA IGOUMENIDOU

CHEERing Administrator and Project Manager

Background: Marianna has a bachelors degree in English from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Greek is her native language and she is also fluent in English and Spanish.

Experience: Since University, she has worked as an English tutor in language institutions, and teaching 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.

PAPY KUYOWA NDOTONI

CHEERing Executive Assistant, Interpreter and Cultural Mediator

Background: 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.

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 recently graduated from the Global Health Masters 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 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.

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

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

Peer Counsellor and Interpreter, CHEERing

Background: Leila works with CHEERing as a breastfeeding peer counsellor and a Farsi and Turkish interpreter. She works in partnership with the CHEERing team at all of CHEERing’s Grow Clinic locations, with a particular focus on Elna Maternity centers and the Malakasa and Eleonas refugee camps.

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.

FARZANA RAHIMI

Peer Counsellor and Interpreter, CHEERing

Background: Farzana is from Afghanistan. She has lived in the Malakasa refugee camp in Greece since 2020. She assists with the CHEERing Grow Clinics serving Malakasa refugee camp, and acts as a Farsi translator.

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

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.

RANA SABREEN, BSC

Volunteer, 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.

MIKE MADOFF, MSC, BSc

Volunteer, CHEERing

Background: Mike holds an MBA from INSEAD and is a graduate of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. His focus is on technology at the intersection of healthcare and financial inclusion in emerging markets.


Experience: Mike is part of the DigitalBCG team at the Boston Consulting Group, advising clients in the Central and Eastern Europe and Middle East region. Previously, he was Director of Product and Digital Strategy at YI Advisors, a social enterprise dedicated to expanding healthcare coverage for young adults.

DANNI SCALES, BSC

Volunteer, CHEERing

Background: A recent graduate of Nutraceuticals for Health and Nutrition from TU Dublin. Danni’s dissertation focused on maternal food security and Nutrition among displaced people

Experience: Danni has 5 years of experience working as a special needs assistant in Dublin, Ireland, and has previously volunteered for FoodKIND, which has driven her passion for supplemental nutrition. 

ATHENA DAVIS, BA

Volunteer, CHEERing

Background: Athená E Davis holds a BA in Biology and Africana studies and she is currently pursuing her MPH at BUSPH in Community Assessment, Program Design, Implementation, and Evaluation (CAPDIE) and Maternal and Child Health. Her focuses mainly include Maternal and Child Health and Health Equity.

Experience:  Athena has experience doing research at BUSPH on postpartum maternal health in addition to conducting research at Vassar College on health disparities in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), infant motor development, and the Child’Space Method. She has worked for the nonprofit Building Audacity for the past year doing community based projects to promote maternal and infant health, increase COVID-19 vaccine equity, and address food insecurity in Boston.

OUR ERASMUS ENTREPRENEURS:

Background: Isabel is a graduate of Philosophy, Politics

and Economy, currently studing a master 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 assestment for asylum

seekers, cultural mediation while she is responsible for

the empowerment and psycho-social support programms.

She is involved in different local projects supporting

vulnerable collectives and migrant population.