Esther Cafe and Boutique in Kalamunda helping young women to break free

Barista Elleah Campbell, PA Carla Evans and cafe manager Samantha Athan at the Esther Cafe and Boutique in Kalamunda. Picture: David Baylis.
Barista Elleah Campbell, PA Carla Evans and cafe manager Samantha Athan at the Esther Cafe and Boutique in Kalamunda. Picture: David Baylis.

ELLEAH Campbell (16) didn’t think she’d 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 not-for-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 own the truth.”

The boutique is seeking good quality labelled clothing donations from the public. To donate email boutique@estherfoundation.org.au