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 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 is a former consultant to the US Department of Health and Human Services’ 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 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.

FARZANA HAKIMI

CHEERing Team Leader

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.

MARIANNA IGOUMENIDOU, BA

Administrator and Project Manager

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.

FEREIDON 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.

PIERRETTE IMPOSE IYAKA

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 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.

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, Mariam 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 organizes a series of reading groups. Her interests lie in child health and health disparities affecting minority populations. Mariam 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.

MOLLY WARREN, BSC

Volunteer

Molly is a third-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 of future specialty and intends to return in Autumn 2022.

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. Molly is an active member of multiple student activism groups, which advocate for women’s rights and access to healthcare locally.

MARIA JOAO, MSC

Erasmus Entrepreneur 

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, hoping to contribute her skills and knowledge as a pharmacist to the projects carried out by the organization.

LOUIS SAWTELL

Volunteer

Louis is a third-year medical student at the University of Sheffield, with a particular interest in pediatrics and primary health.

His education and experience have increasingly highlighted health disparities globally, especially in the health access and health outcomes fields.

Previously, Louis has worked with foodKIND, another organization supporting refugees in Greece, which gave him experience in the field and solidified his desire to work with asylum seekers. Even after returning to his studies in Sheffield, Louis continued to support foodKIND as a long-distance volunteer, working in the administrative and organizational department of the charity.

Louis has also previously gained experience working within larger charity structures supporting organizations such as the British Red Cross with their family tracing service, VSO on some of their girls’ education programs, and organizing Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) while at medical school.

SAMANA YOUSEFI

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. 

SOMAYE YOUSEFI, MD

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.

BASIRA AZIMI

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. 

MARTINE AMELIE

Volunteer

Martine Amelie is from Norway and is finishing her bachelor’s in intercultural understanding and wants to further her education with a master’s in human rights.

Martine has long been interested in the humanitarian field and always wanted to help people in her community.

She is volunteering for CHEERing through Erasmus and her university’s internship program and works with the football team. She is an experienced football player and loves to teach her skills and strategies to her students.

PAPY KUYOWA NDOTONI

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.

LAMPRINI MAMMATA, BA

Volunteer

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

She has eight years of experience in teaching philological courses in schools and educational organizations and giving private lessons to children. In September 2018, as a volunteer of the Hellenic Red Cross, Lamprini 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 coaches our Beautiful Girls football team at Malakasa camp and also gives Greek lessons to refugee adults.

YILDIZ GUMUSTEKIN

Volunteer

Yildiz is a social worker and volunteer for CHEERing.

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

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.

SOPHIA NICOLADES

Volunteer

Sophia Nicolades is a Greek-Australian medical student studying at the University of Queensland. She has a degree in gender studies and an MPH. Sophia currently works in public health research, with a focus on health equity, decolonization, and decarceration within medical institutions. Previously, she worked with women, non-binary peoples, and children in domestic violence services.

Sophia also takes part in social justice organizing, training people in first aid (physical and mental) for protest environments and community-based responses to harm. She is active in advocating for more equitable education within the university space. With CHEERing, Sophia works with the Grow Clinic team, healthcare access, and BARCA health screenings/ reporting.

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.

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. Lena was a participant in EDUVAC, an intensive Erasmus+ course on vaccinations at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Finland. She speaks Greek, English, and German and has experience in clinical practice at 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.

ALINA HAMKAR, MD

Volunteer

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.

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.

Check out CHEERing Alumni here!