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Geeske Zijp - TLM Hero

A woman from the Netherlands with short smiles at the camera during her work in Chad

Geeske Zijp hails from The Netherlands. She is a nurse by training and works as Programme Manager and TLM's representative in Chad. She has served with TLM for over 30 years. Working in Chad means that Geeske is constantly battling a hot climate, poor internet, insecurity, tropical diseases, poor road networks, and a lack of public services that slow down performance. Despite this, Geeske always gives her best.

Geeske uses her leprosy expertise to train and supervise Chad's government health workers. She supports them with leprosy control and disability prevention, community awareness of leprosy, and the rights of persons with disabilities. She also encourages, trains and develops local Organisations of Persons with Disability in Chad. Through her support, these organisations have improved their governance and developed projects aimed at reducing poverty and community integration. Geeske is also responsible for the management of the Mission Blind School in Mongo and Salamat in Chad; many blind students have benefited from this care and are now working independently to transform their society.

Geeske's hospitality and her passion for caring for those affected by leprosy and other disabilities in Chad makes her an outstanding missionary. Geeske is always willing to sacrifice her comfort and resources to help make life better for other people. Because of this attitude, people in Chad love working with Geeske.

Her colleague, Bunmi Oluloto says "I've seen how children with disability in her local area will flock to her house and she will share her food with them and nurses their wounds. She is the embodiment of a Good Samaritan. Geeske leads a very humble life; her lifestyle is the same as that of an average local Chadian, without ostentation or glory. She always advocates for people affected by leprosy and other disabilities by ensuring that their voices are heard by the government and other NGOs. I call her the Chadian mother Theresa. I believe Geeske deserved every accolade, recognition and appreciation for his amazing work for people affected by leprosy in Chad!"

In 2023, Geeske won the Prix Raoul Follereau de l’Académie française, a prestigious French award which she was given for her amazing service in Chad.