Groups from local church find calling in Africa - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Community Focus

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Groups from local church find calling in Africa

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Posted: Wednesday, December 21, 2011 12:00 pm

Charitable mission work is proving to be contagious.

In June 2010, Ahwatukee Foothills residents John, Kay, and Jeremy West sold the majority of their belongings and moved to a place known as Swaziland, a country in southern Africa, to live and work to improve the lives of the residents.

More recently, Lisa Jisa, another Ahwatukee Foothills resident, took her daughter to Swaziland to assist the Wests in their work, which includes building an orphanage for the children there.

Inspired by the charitable acts of their fellow Bridgeway Community Church members, another group of mothers and daughters will be making the trip in June to Swaziland, which has one of the highest percentages of residents with HIV and AIDS in the world.

"We're going to be a support team to the Wests," Debbie Woodford said. "We just want to be there with the kids, help them out, and spread the word of Christ."

The group is made up of six teens and preteens, ages 11 to 17, with three moms going as well. Each person is in the process of raising $3,100 to cover all the expenses of their trip.

"I am so unbelievably excited," Angela Schamante, 17, said. "We got to talk to (Kay) and just the way she talked about helping the kids and seeing the looks on their faces, I just jumped at the opportunity to go."

Woodford brought the idea of taking a team to Bridgeway, and they collected applications for spots and conducted interviews to see who would be the best fit to go. The idea was to take applicants who were passionate and resourceful enough to raise the money for their trip.

Most of the girls have started fundraising, but they still have a ways to go before they can purchase their plane tickets. Some have been collecting and recycling cans, others baby sitting and doing bake sales.

They will be going for 10 days and, in that time, will work directly with the Wests, the orphanage and the kids.

"These teen girls, it's their heart's desire to go and do what they can to help," DeeAhn Murray said.

If you would like to help or donate to the group, visit Bridgeway Community Church, 2420 E. Liberty Lane, or call (480) 706-4130. To read the Wests' online blog, visit

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or

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