An inspiration portrait of Chantal Cali, residential counsellor at the Tabitha halfway house on Bonaire

Chantal Cali is 37 and works as a residential counsellor at the Tabitha halfway house on Bonaire. What drives and inspires her in her work with victims of domestic violence? We asked her seven questions about herself, her work, her talents, what she learns from her clients and, above all, how she continues to do her work with energy, hope and inspiration. We hope it inspires you!

What kind of work do you do within the halfway house where you work?

‘I counsel vulnerable women and mothers who are victims of domestic violence. After the intake phase, the case is transferred to a mentor. This can be myself or a colleague. As a mentor, I conduct weekly mentoring interviews and I provide periodic evaluations. I took the course to become an attention officer. We are currently implementing this function in our halfway house.’

 What do you like best about your work?

‘I love making people realise how much power they possess. Because of the situation they are in, they are often unaware of this. When people discover these strengths, you see them regain self-confidence, become active and motivated. You see that happen and they give that back to me. That makes me happy.’

What is your biggest talent?

‘My talent is that, in a critical situation or when emotions run high, I can properly put things in perspective and I do not judge. This way, I convey a sense of calm and safety to the residents of our halfway house.’

What did you learn from your clients?

‘I learnt that not everything is what it seems. The intake phase with clients is a process of about six weeks. That time is badly needed to get clarity on a case. As a result, every time, I learn to have no preconceptions and to look at every situation critically.’

How do you make a difference as a halfway organisation?

‘We make a difference through the sense of safety that we offer our clients. The protected living environment works like a placebo effect. The sense of safety comes from within. Often the women who come to us are used to unsafety. They then have to get used to the sense of safety and learn to deal with positivity. They have to believe that another person actually cares about them. This makes all the difference.’

What are you most proud of?

‘I have been working at the Tabitha halfway house for almost 3 years now and I can see that we have grown tremendously. What I am most proud of is the team. We have worked hard over the past year to improve the quality of care and this is reflected within the team.’

How do you keep doing your job with energy, hope and inspiration?

‘I believe that what you convey to the resident, you also receive in return. For example, I feel inspired because I manage to inspire a resident. It is an interaction. You are often naturally inclined to take over someone else’s emotions. If a resident is very negative, you should not go along with this, but if you manage to give the resident a positive outlook, you will also receive this in return.’