Our CHEER Champion this week is Alexandra Beedle, MSC, ANutr, and Volunteer for CHEER International Group (CHEERing). Alexandra was nominated for her dedication and tenacity in going to serve vulnerable populations in Greece, during the current global pandemic.
“I am a humanitarian and the pandemic does not deter me from my work. On the contrary, it has made me want to use my knowledge and skills to help those who are now more in need than ever. At the same time, I hoped to gain invaluable hands-on experience.” - Alexandra Beedle, MSc.
Alexandra is a nutritionist with a Masters in Nutrition for Global Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). She is first aid trained with St John’s ambulance and has experience working with various national and international organizations. Recently, Alexandra was working in South Sudan with the World Food Programme (WFP) Nutrition team as Data and Information Officer. Prior to this, she worked at a number of organizations on various systematic reviews about the issue of malnutrition.
“I found out about CHEERing very randomly while on holiday in Greece in August. I couldn't sleep one night and was browsing on LinkedIn when I came across a post by Indigo Volunteers,” she shared. “CHEERing was listed as an organisation, and on the lookout for a nutritionist, so, as my last contract had just ended, I sent an email offering to volunteer.” Alexandra describes that being proactive and flexible have been vital to her role at CHEERing. “With the COVID-19 situation changing daily, I have been able to apply my in-depth knowledge about breastfeeding and infant feeding in emergencies to my everyday role here in the refugee camps.”
Furthermore, Alexandra has previous experience working on the post-natal ward of a London hospital, where she assisted medical staff and provided support to new mothers and their families. During her time at CHEERing, she has advocated for a severely underweight premature baby to see a doctor, as she was losing weight weekly, and encouraged the mother to feed her more. She also helped to create a video to be used in a fundraising campaign, made infographics on recommended foods for babies from 6 months of age, and created social media posts to raise awareness about CHEERing’s work.
“Working in the camp has definitely shown me that there is very little coordination between national and international actors within the camp, for example, it is so difficult for the refugees to receive basic healthcare. I can only hope that this situation changes in the near future,” Alexandra shared. She is a London native who speaks French, Spanish and Portuguese.
Congratulations Alexandra, thank you for your commitment to serving vulnerable populations!
Learn more about CHEERing and support their work here.
This week’s CHAMPions are the women of the Moving Violations Motorcycle Club of Boston, popularly known as the “Bikers for Babies”. They were nominated for their volunteer work with the Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast and their heroic rescue of 1,000 ounces of donated breast milk following power outage from Tropical Storm Isaias in Connecticut.
Moving Violations Motorcycle Club launched the Bikers for Babies program in 2018. The club consists of 90 active members, 18 of whom are Bikers for Babies volunteers. “When we heard about the efforts of the Sirens, our sister organization in New York City, our club president presented the idea to the Milk Bank in Newton and they thought it was great! We were really impressed to discover the work that milk banks do and we are enthusiastic to volunteer,” shared Daryll Drew, Moving Violations and Mothers’ Milk Bank Liaison
Although the Bikers for Babies have a lot of awesome stories from their breast milk transportation activities, they recently received a lot of well-deserved publicity for their efforts during the Tropical Storm Isaias. In the aftermath of the storm this August, a power outage throughout Connecticut left about 1,000 ounces of donated breast milk at risk of thawing. The Glastonbury milk depot staff were desperate to save the batch of milk, and so they reached out to the Bikers for Babies to help. When the bikers arrived, they along with Dr. Alvarez, an obstetrician and fellow biker, loaded up their motorcycles and transported the milk from Glastonbury, CT to Newton, MA.
When asked about the effect of COVID on their ability to pick-up donated breast milk from families and deliver them to the Milk Bank, Daryll shared that they now have limited interactions with people throughout the process and adhere to social distancing and masking measures. “Before COVID, we used to get a bit more interaction with the families. We are friendly and professional, and sometimes we will interact with their other children if they show interest in the bikes and if the parents are open to it. COVID has certainly changed that! But I am glad we are able to continue to help out whenever possible.”
The availability of pasteurized donor milk is more important now than ever and we thank the Bikers for Babies of the Moving Violations Club for their efforts to pick up and preserve donor breast milk, so it reaches the families in need.
CHEER Champion of the week
Each Monday (besides public holidays), we will recognize a CHEER Champion for all the support they have provided for CHEER, CHAMPS, or the general public.