Meet the CHEERing Team!


Executive Director and Founder

As the director of CHEER International Group, 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 of 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 UNICEF, and is a former consultant to the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Indian Health Service.


National Director and Founder

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

Originally from Malaysia, Airinie has her Masters’s 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 in working with refugee populations in Greece since 2015.


CHEERing Associate Director

Farzana coordinates most of CHEERing’s programmatic work including the Foundation-funded Sportnet project; CHEERing’s Grow Clinics at Malakasa and Thiba refugee camps, and liaison to CHEERing Afghanistan. She is also a peer counselor and Farsi interpretor.

Farzana has a mathematics diploma and studied first aid and pharmacology in Iran, and is a Board Member of the Greek Forum of Refugees.


Administrative Manager and Data Protection Officer

Marianna has a bachelor’s 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, Marianna traveled 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.


Director, CHEERing Football Club

General Manager, CHEERing

Fereidon Rahimi is from Afghanistan and lived in Iran for 38 years. He directs the CHEERing Football Club and co-manages the CHEERing Sportnet program. He also co-manages CHEERing Afghanistan.

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


Grow Clinic Peer Counsellor and Interpreter

Pierrette works with CHEERing as a breastfeeding peer counselor 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 with a focus on community based breastfeeding support in Athens.  

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.


CHEERing Clinical Team Lead

Alina is CHEERing’s clinical team lead and our guide in medical matters. Alina holds an MD degree from Afghanistan, where she worked as a Junior Doctor volunteer for one year. After the 15th of August 2021 crisis in Afghanistan, she evacuated Afghanistan and moved to Greece with her parents.

Alina has also worked as an interpreter in Athens. She is fluent in Farsi-Dari and English.



Team Lead

Maria João holds a Master’s Degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Porto, Portugal, and has more than two years of experience as a community pharmacist. As a pharmacy student, she worked with research groups from Portugal and Sweden and participated in several social inclusion projects. She started working with refugee populations in 2021, in collaboration with Open Cultural Center (OCC), developing cultural and educational activities for refugees and asylum seekers in Northern Greece.

Maria joined CHEERing under the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs program, and is now on staff.


CHEERing Afghanistan Program Leader

Samana is a university-trained midwife employed at the Herat Public Hospital. She and Somaye are leading on-the-ground efforts to establish the CHEERing Afghanistan Program in Herat. 

As CHEERing Afghanistan Program Leader, Samana will identify high-need mothers to attend our Grow Clinic in Herat. At the clinic, she and other professionals will weigh and measure babies, give vaccinations, check women postpartum, and provide breastfeeding support as well as a safe and supportive women-only environment. 


CHEERing Afghanistan Program Leader

Somaye is an Afghan-trained doctor at the Herat Public Hospital. Somaye will manage the CHEERing Afghanistan Program in collaboration with Samana and provide support in the Grow Clinic.


CHEERing Afghanistan Office Manager

Tareq joined the CHEERing Afghanistan team in September 2022 and currently manages the CHEERing office in Herat. He collaborates with CHEERing team members Samana, Somaye, and Basira to address health issues and provide critical maternal-child health support.

From Afghanistan, Tareq previously studied nursing. He is passionate about combatting poverty, maternal mortality, and malnutrition in his home country.


CHEERing Afghanistan Program Coordinator

Basira is a student at Herat University studying to become an anesthesiologist. She currently works as a midwife at the Herat Public Hospital. 

Basira will support Samana and Somaye in establishing CHEERing’s program in Afghanistan and support activities at our Grow Clinic in Herat. 


Executive Assistant, Interpreter, and Cultural Mediator

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


Pharmaceutical Expert Consultant

Rana has a degree in Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Chemistry from Al-Baath University in Homs, Syria. She recently completed her Masters’s in Disaster Management with the University of Nicosia, Cyprus, and is currently completing a master’s 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.


Erasmus Intern

From Gothenburg, Sweden, Molly is currently studying political science at the University of Gothenburg. She previously played handball professionally since a young age and is now a handball coach for young girls. Molly loves seeing how the girls develop as individuals and grow into better players.

Molly is volunteering for CHEERing through Erasmus and her university’s internship program and works with the football team.


CHEERing Fellow

Mariah is earning a Master of Public Health at Boston University in Massachusetts, with a special interest in maternal and child health, especially in refugee and immigrant health. Her focus areas include program design, implementation, and evaluation, and health communications and promotion. As a CHEERing Fellow, Mariah is coordinating various aspects of CHEERing’s preventive health program.

Mariah also supports CHEERing’s partner organization, CHEER, in the U.S. as a communications and research assistant. She previously supported immigrant and refugee populations in Boston as the Social Media & Communications Specialist and Patient Advisory Council Coordinator at Boston Medical Center’s Immigrant & Refugee Health Center. Additionally, Mariah worked as a communications specialist for the nonprofit Nature and Culture International, promoting environmental and community health in Mexico and South America.


Erasmus Intern

Willow is currently studying for a master’s degree in Human Rights and Multi-level Governance at the University of Padua in Italy. She will be writing her thesis on refugee rights alongside interning at CHEERing.

Originally from the UK, Willow completed a bachelor’s degree in law and is hoping to pursue a career defending and advocating for refugee rights. In her free time, Willow loves to travel and discover new countries and cultures!

Willow is interning at CHEERing through the Erasmus scheme, as part of her master’s program in Italy. 


Student Intern

Estelle is a French student at the political science university in Aix-en-Provence. She previously worked with toddlers in a daycare facility, preparing and animating educational and artistic activities for them. More generally, she is passionate and deeply cares about animal and human rights.

As an intern, Estelle is assisting CHEERing with health screenings of beneficiaries, football training and games, cooking lessons, and other health and educational activities.

Check out CHEERing Alumni here!