The care and compassion she has for other people drives Rebecca Gallagher.
From helping Cambodian girls escape from the heartbreak of human trafficking - to helping someone in the Shoalhaven get to school, Rebecca lives to give others a hand up.
Her efforts in the Shoalhaven and in Cambodia were recently recognised by the Rotary Club of Bomaderry when they presented her with the John Christmas Vocational Award.
Rebecca is busy preparing for her next humanitarian trip in November.
She will be going to Cambodia as part of Esther's Voice. The group partners with non-government organisations to carry out various programs.
"We take the girls away on a four-day retreat," Rebecca said.
"We will be helping 80 girls and Esther's Voiceaims to prevent human trafficking and brings healing to women rescued from human trafficking."
Rebecca said the aim was to "break the cycle of brokenness" and empower women so they can bring change into their lives through healthy decision making.
Rebecca said the ages of the people caught in human trafficking range from three-years to 22-years.
She has been helping Cambodian people for four years.
"I just love helping and I had a pretty crazy upbringing myself," she said.
"I had a pretty challenging background and because of this background, and my work with the Celebration Church in South Nowra, I really wanted to help in this area.
"I just want to give hope to girls and show them there is a different way."
Rebecca said girls in the Shoalhaven would feel the same sense of shame and low esteem as people in Cambodia.
"It might not be masked under trafficking but could be masked under Facebook bullying or things that have happened in school," she said.
Rebecca said they make a difference.
"We are not a group of Western people going into Cambodia to fix a problem. We work with the leaders in Cambodia and with the people who are mentoring these girls every single day," she said.
"We are teaching them a better way and so they can take what we have taught them and continue to work with the girls.
"The goal is that we won't have to keep going back as we are empowering them to be the voice for a nation."
She said local community members can help the girls by being aware of what is going on in Cambodia.
Rebecca said awareness of the exploitation could come down to being aware of where the clothes you buy come from or what you are looking at online.
People can also support the cause financially.
Rebecca is organising a trivia fundraiser Esther's Voice on Thursday, September 5 at Huskisson Hotel from 7pm with a gold coin donation.
People can email her on firstname.lastname@example.org if they want to make a donation.
Rebecca, as a church youth leader, helps unprivileged youths in the Nowra area
"I also, in my own time, go into their homes to help families in their times of need," she said.
She said just helping one person can achieve amazing results.
"I had a troubled life and if someone did not reach out to me I would be another statistic," she said.
Because someone and something (her church) reached out, Rebecca was able to turn her life around. She believes in doing things and not just talking about doing things.
"They (local youth) need to know people have got their back and are here to support them," she said.
Rebecca said winning the John Christmas award was overwhelming.
"I don't deserve it. I am just helping the community and doing what I have always done," she said.
She does not seek awards as her reward is in being able to help people.
"My reward is seeing a girl who did not believe in herself once now thinking she is worth something," Rebecca said
She said small achievements like helping someone get to school was rewarding. She was nominated for the award by two members of the Rotary Club of Bomaderry but is not a Rotarian herself.
Rebeca is also strongly involved with the local Shine and Strength program and works with girls to help improve their self-confidence
Rotary and local churches helped raise $10 000 for the program last year.
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Upcoming fundraising events
Sunday, September 8 3pm - Sisterhood event at Celebration church south Nowra $15 for a ticket afternoon tea included with an opportunity to give towards Esther's Voice on the night.
Sunday, October 27 6pm - Celebration Church South Nowra. showing the film ' Pink Toom ' $20 per ticket with 100 per cent of funds raised from tickets going to Esther's Voice and supporting the girls in Cambodia.
You will also have the opportunity to sponsor a young woman to attend an Esther's Voice retreat in Cambodia this year.
People can book or just turn up on the night and can contact email@example.com for details.
About Esther's Voice
Esther's Voice aims to prevent human trafficking and bring healing to women rescued from human trafficking by breaking cycles of brokenness and empowering women to bring change into their own lives through healthy decision making.
In November and December, Esther's Voice will partner with AIM to train their Khmer staff in ministry and cognitive therapy techniques, and then take 80 rescued girls on Esther's Voice retreats.
These are four day retreats that incorporate cognitive therapies with ministry and outdoor recreational activities aimed at developing confidence, resilience and hope by addressing the foundation concepts of identity, self-worth and personal responsibility.
The Esther's Voice program aims to achieve three lasting outcomes in the lives of participants: 1.
An the understanding of the value of human life; 2.
The ability to form safe and positive relationships 3.
The ability to make healthy choices within the context of their environment and personal situation.
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Cambodia is among the world's most human trafficked nations.
Sex trafficking is a major income source and 80% of the victims are female.
Every year 100,000 girls as young as three years old are sold into sexual slavery and most are sold by people they know and trust.
Sadly more than 80 per cent of rescued girls will return to prostitution.
Testimony of Mien, 10 years who will be attending the 2019 Esther's Voice Retreats
"I was five when my parents died, my aunty sold me to a brothel that specialised in young girls.
"She was able to bargain a good price for my virginity, and I was beaten and starved until I submitted to everything they told me to do. I was chained up during the day and forced to see customers all night. When I was finally rescued three years later.
"I was scared of everyone and couldn't talk. I felt like an animal. My body was covered in bruises and my hair hadn't been washed in months. I was taken to Agape Rescue Centre."
Testimonies from NGO Partners
"Our leaders all have a history of trauma so investing into them before the retreats is massive and ensures longevity to the work. There is no one else doing this," Robert, Country Manager, Destiny Rescue
"Esther's Voice is not about doing something for a moment and then leaving. By investing into people and training leaders it is rebuilding the future. The Esther's Voice team leaves but the leaders remain and real transformation takes place," Davy, Head Counsellor, Destiny Rescue.