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Women Leading Change: Q&A with World Relief Chad’s Country Director

March 8th is International Women’s Day, a day devoted to celebrating women’s achievements for a more diverse and inclusive world. At World Relief, we have the honor of working with women leading change around the world, and we believe it’s important to elevate women’s experiences, challenges and the contributions they make in our communities every day. 

We are blessed to work and serve with many women from all walks of life. One of those women is Dr. Justine Nagorngar, World Relief’s Country Director in Chad.  Justine recently sat down with us to talk about her experience as a female country director and what it means to invest in women and accelerate progress for all. She is just one of the many incredible women leading change at World Relief. Their unwavering dedication, passion and hard work serve as an inspiration to all of us.

Thank you for joining us, Dr. Justine Nagorngar. You joined World Relief in December 2022 as the Country Director of our newest international office — Chad. What excites you about this role?

Thank you so much. There is a lot I am looking forward to, but what I am most excited about is making connections with partners in Chad and doing what I can to make World Relief known here.   

World Relief’s reputation as a dependable international Christian organization is something we are all very proud of and we have a testimony to preserve. By focusing on Christ and seeking God’s wisdom in all that we do, I trust that World Relief will be able to do so much good for the people in Chad. 

This experience has also been like a school of sorts. As the Country Director, I am working with so many people from all different backgrounds. Each person has a culture, family and education and it’s important to understand all of those components to see how we are all connected. I’m learning so much about how they work and how to be there for them so that we can move together toward the same objective. This is teaching me patience and humility. I’m grateful to God for the opportunity to keep learning.

What are some of the unique challenges you face as a female Country Director in Chad?

I face many challenges as a female Country Director and I group them in two categories. The first one has to do with socio-cultural factors that impact women’s work. For example, women in Chad can’t freely express themselves in public. It’s looked down upon to be so actively involved with an organization — like sharing your opinion on certain big decisions. Instead of your efforts coming across like you care deeply for the organization’s well-being, it can be viewed by outsiders as being nosey and meddlesome.   

The second is gender. Men are just more respected than women. When it comes to professional and social topics, men listen much more to each other than to their female counterparts and do not accept ideas from them. Therefore, it is necessary to use a little more patience and remain humble while hearing certain harsh judgments. 

Throughout these challenges, there is also still finding that balance as a working professional, wife and mother. For all of these reasons, my faith in God is so important to depend on for direction and endurance.

What do you hope for the Chad office?

We have begun to work with local churches and have already gathered encouraging testimonies where leaders express their impatience and commitment to the well-being of the most vulnerable in their communities. So, we are eager to see God at work, to see transformed communities living in joy, love and peace. 

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” I believe that if we follow these words, we will see life-changing transformation through World Relief programs. My hope is for our staff to use the talents that God has given each of us with integrity while pursuing excellence. I look forward to seeing World Relief making a lasting impact in community life with an equally transformed and committed staff.

What’s unique about the Chad office, the people you serve and the needs of women and girls that the rest of the world needs to know?

There are so many unique things. When you hear about Chad, you could think of it as a mainly Muslim country, but when you are here, you see that it is different. We serve people from all parts of the world who speak many different languages. 

Also, Chad is a landlocked country and we receive most of our resources from other countries. The level of poverty is so high that it ranks 187 out of 189 on the Human Development Index. Fifty-two percent of the population lives below the national poverty line and 39.9% of children experience chronic malnutrition. 
Our country is in need of so much help. It’s not easy to see so much suffering. For women specifically, they need adequate health care, financial autonomy and to be heard. We deserve to have the right to participate in decision-making at all levels. A step towards that is providing a healthy and complete education. It allows them to acquire knowledge and especially to know their rights. It is often said that “educating a girl is educating a nation”.

As one of the many women leading change at World Relief, is there anything else you would like to share?

Yes, it’s important to know that being a woman is already being a leader. This requires a lot of investment on several levels: professional, family, social, cultural and spiritual. Therefore, men and women must join forces to achieve this balance that will allow everyone to flourish in their environment. I always think of the African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” If we are consistently seeking the wisdom of God and working together as a family, then we can do many things.

We have the chance to be the hands and feet of Jesus for so many in this great country. I am excited that World Relief is here and we have so many opportunities to work with dignity and transparency to serve a lot of vulnerable people. I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve the people of Chad in this way and to see what we can do together at World Relief!

Get to know another amazing woman leading change at World Relief: Matilda Matitha, Country Director in Malawi.

Jessica Galván is a Content Writer at World Relief. She is passionate about storytelling and amplifying diverse voices to reveal the beauty of God’s creation. She is also the Editorial Director for Chasing Justice and prior to World Relief, she was a freelance writer and editor for a variety of clients in publishing, most recently Penguin Random House. When she isn’t wordsmithing for the pursuit of faith and justice, she is spending time with her husband and their 3 children in the Houston, TX area.

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