The members of Girl Scout Troop 635 know that life in other parts of the world isn’t as easy as it is here.

Like many people in Ahwatukee Foothills, they were connected to the story of the Wests, the Ahwatukee Foothills family that packed up or sold off their belongings and moved to Swaziland in Africa in 2010.

The Wests — Kay, John, and Jeremy — took it upon themselves to travel to Swaziland and help the population there, a population which has been hit hard by the AIDS epidemic.

“A lot of the kids are orphans and there are a lot of people that have HIV or AIDS,” said Rachel Rhoades, 13, member of Troop 635. “So there aren’t as many adults to take care of them.”

As part of the troop working to earn its Silver Award, the highest honor a Cadette (grades sixth to eighth), Rhoades and seven others are working on a project to bring a little bit of comfort to the kids in Swaziland.

Over the next two Saturdays, the girls will be making 150 dresses and afterwards will be shipping them to the Wests in Swaziland. They collected donations and will be crafting the dresses out of pillowcases.

“It probably would be a big help,” Rhoades said. “There are not many resources to get clothes there. It would be a big help and a big relief.”

To earn the Silver Award each girl must work 50 hours in the completion of the goal. Last Saturday, April 21, the troop worked for more than five hours at Foothills Methodist Church putting together the dresses.

“A lot of time went into planning for the dresses and making them,” Rhoades said. “It was a good opportunity that most people would not have to help these kids. Since nobody else has the opportunity, we decided to do it.”

They will be finishing their project on April 28 at Bridgeway Community Church.

To read the Wests’ blog, visit

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