In 2001, Mustard Seed Communities was asked to establish a home for children with disabilities in Dominican Republic. In the small town of Cangrejo on the outskirts of Puerto Plata, MSC acquired property and constructed a home called Hogar Immanuel. Our program in DR continues to grow along with the need for care of children with disabilities. In addition to our residential care facilities, MSC Dominican Republic is an established site of our Christ in the Garbage Ministries program focused on nutrition, education and poverty reduction.
Hogar Immanuel is presently home to more than 20 children. The residents’ disabilities include Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, psychomotor delays, mental impairment, autism, epilepsy, physical deformations, deafness and blindness. More than 20 employees, including an occupational therapist, work together to care for the children and ensure that their daily needs are met. Several of the children attend physical therapy, occupational therapy and special education classes depending on their personal abilities. A small number of children who are more physically capable attend a local special needs school in Puerto Plata.
In 2007, MSC Dominican Republic purchased an adjoining piece of property for future expansion of the home. The initial phase of expansion began in early 2013 and the fully developed property will include four cottages, a kitchen, a utility building, a physiotherapy room and on-site mission volunteer housing. The expansion will double our capacity for care, allowing Hogar Immanuel to accommodate a total of 40 children upon completion. MSC Dominican Republic is often asked to take on additional children in the area. This growth will enable us to meet that need and serve a greater population of the most vulnerable in Dominican Republic.
Every day, trash is deposited in massive garbage dumps around the world. In many developing nations, people live and work in these dumps. When garbage trucks arrive, adults and children alike rush to the new heaps of trash to pick out what can be used, sold or eaten. One such community exists outside of Puerto Plata in Sosua. In 2003, MSC witnessed the destitution and devastation in the dump and developed Christ in the Garbage Ministries (CIGM) to assist the people living there. CIGM began distributing food packages consisting of sardines, rice, cornmeal, sugar, cooking oil, beans and toiletries to people in the Sosua Garbage Dump.
There is a small village of Haitian refugees located near the Sosua dump called Batey La Union. Many of the children there are not permitted to attend schools because of their inability to read or write in Spanish, the national language of DR. In 2008, CIGM opened a school in the village to teach these children basic reading, writing, mathematics, Spanish and religious education. Classes are offered at no cost and children in attendance are fed a nutritious meal every day. CIGM also provides school supplies, uniforms and shoes to all of the students.