Open­ing up at new Es­ther cafe

Southern Gazette (Belmont) - - FRONT PAGE - Sarah Brookes

ELLEAH Camp­bell (16) did not think she would live to see her 18th birth­day.

Af­ter be­ing bullied in pri­mary school, she de­vel­oped de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety be­fore her life be­gan to spi­ral out of con­trol in her teenage years.

“It es­ca­lated in high school and I dropped out in Year 8 and started us­ing ice,” she said.

“I moved out of home when I was 14 and moved in with my boyfriend.

“My ad­dic­tion be­came so bad I started us­ing my body to pay for the drugs and get­ting ar­rested.”

Elleah cred­ited the Es­ther Foun­da­tion for help­ing her gain valu­able life skills and get her life back on track.

The foun­da­tion is a not­for-profit ser­vice that runs a res­i­den­tial health pro­gram in Kala­munda at St Em­i­lies for young women deal­ing with life-con­trol­ling strug­gles, from sub­stance abuse to teenage preg­nancy and men­tal health.

“The day Mum dropped me off there she told me I was go­ing to a den­tist ap­point­ment,” she said.

“I didn’t want to be there and for the first few weeks I kept run­ning away.

“Even­tu­ally I did set­tle in and they be­came like fam­ily. At St Em­i­lies I feel like I have 60 sis­ters just do­ing life to­gether.

“The Es­ther Foun­da­tion has given me a chance to turn my life around and I’m back at school now too.”

The foun­da­tion re­cently opened the not-for-profit Es­ther Cafe and Bou­tique on Haynes Street in Kala­munda to give its res­i­dents a train­ing ground to learn new skills in hos­pi­tal­ity.

Sam Athan (23) man­ages the Es­ther Cafe and said the unique pro­gram “built you for life”.

“I’ve been here two years and orig­i­nally came from Al­bany,” she said.

“Both my par­ents passed away and I was stuck in the men­tal health sys­tem on med­i­ca­tions when a fam­ily friend told me about the Es­ther Foun­da­tion.

“I was trans­ferred from hos­pi­tal to Es­ther and af­ter just five months I dis­cov­ered I had a love of cof­fee and hos­pi­tal­ity and now I am man­ag­ing the cafe.

“Un­like a hos­pi­tal, Es­ther gives you op­por­tu­ni­ties. They find out what you want to do, help you set goals and plan, all the while chal­leng­ing you to own the truth.”

The bou­tique is seek­ing good qual­ity la­belled cloth­ing do­na­tions from the pub­lic. Email bou­tique@es­ther­foun­da­ to help.

Pic­ture: David Baylis­mu­ni­ d487718

Barista Elleah Camp­bell, Es­ther Foun­da­tion’s Carla Evans and cafe man­ager Samantha Athan at the Es­ther Cafe and Bou­tique.

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