This is my colleague Maartje.

Over the past months we have spent a few afternoons together answering phone calls of citizens of Echt-Susteren.

Before that, my focus had been to

1) listen to the citizens + make them feel understood

2) offer them one next practical move, like connecting them with another colleague, giving them the phone number of an organization that I feel could support them or send them a form to apply for a financial fund relevant to their situation.

But Maartje, she had a different tool in her box.

Sure she listened and made citizens feel understood, but her next move would be to make the citizen aware of their share in creating the stressful situation they were finding themselves in.

I was flabbergasted: what a powerful gift she was giving!

And in doing so, Maartje has enriched my perspective on what helping another person is.

An ode to Maartje.