The core mission of Mustard Seed Communities is to care for the most vulnerable populations in society. Our organization focuses on providing for children and adults with disabilities who have been abandoned. In order to create lasting change, we must also address the complex needs of a community. Since 1978, how we serve has evolved with local needs. Below, you will find the pillars of Mustard Seed Communities' programs that guide us in how to serve and uplift entire communities.
Residential Programs for Persons with Disabilities
In 1978, our Founder Msgr. Gregory Ramkissoon noticed a small group of children surviving on the streets of Kingston, Jamaica. He opened a safe space offering shelter, basic sustenance, and education. Thus began the first Mustard Seed community. In the years to follow, after seeing the widespread nature of abandonment among children with disabilities in the developing world, MSC grew into the organization it is today. Residential programs are at the core of our presence in Jamaica, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.
Presently, over 600 residents receive loving and lifelong care at MSC throughout 15 homes. Mustard Seed Communities brings these residents from a place of danger and despair into one of dignity, growth, and potential.
In many of the communities we serve, persons with disabilities have no facilities to turn to at the age of 18. MSC staff in each country evaluates the capacity of every home to fulfill the needs of our residents as they age. For an example of how this vision has come to life in Jamaica, please visit our page on Jacob's Ladder, MSC's first home developed specifically to care for adults with disabilities.
Nutrition & Education for Impoverished Communities
MSC strives to improve the social, spiritual, and economic conditions of the communities we serve. In order to empower and uplift these communities, we must first help ensure that the most basic human needs are met. In many areas we serve, malnutrition and lack of access to primary education are significant barriers to development. MSC operates nutrition programs to address the food scarcity issues among the greater populations surrounding our homes. In each country, the management of these programs depends on the local need. In Nicaragua and Dominican Republic, this service comprises our Christ in the Garbage Ministries program, which addresses a dire need within communities that live and work in and around large urban landfills.
In Jamaica and Zimbabwe, our nutrition and education initiatives are linked. The Little Angels Learning Centers (LALC) provide an early childhood education as well as wholesome meals to the youngest members of these communities, ensuring that these children do not fall behind before they are given a chance to succeed. LALC students are not otherwise able to access the central education system based on socioeconomic status or mere geography.
Sustainable Agriculture & Vocational Programs
Every aspect of MSC's programs aims to address a specific need within the community. As we fulfill basic and immediate needs with our nutrition and early childhood education programs, we also look ahead to the potential of a community and the impact of our own presence within a country.
Our vocational training programs provide a path out of poverty for young people and women in marginalized communities. Mary's Child in Jamaica is our residential program for young mothers in crisis. In addition to the haven to transition safely into motherhood, the young women of Mary's Child receive an education and vocational training to provide a strong base for their family and their future. In Nicaragua, as a branch of the Christ in the Garbage Ministries program, women in Managua attend the Resource Center, or Centro de Recursos. There, they can specialize in sewing or baking, while also receiving basic education in language and mathematics as needed. After graduating from the Resource Center, they receive a small seed fund and additional support for their own independent business operations.
To address the long-term sustainability of our organization, every MSC home contains an agricultural initiative of varying size and scope. This helps provide for the nutritional needs of residents, gives the residents a therapeutic alternative in helping with farming activities, and generates income through the sale of excess produce to the general population.
The Role of Faith in Our Programs
Mustard Seed Communities is built upon a spiritual foundation and is sustained by spiritual nourishment – particularly the Holy Eucharist. Central to the charism of this ministry is Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, recognizing that Jesus Christ is ever-present in our daily life and work, and at the same time expressing gratitude for His invitation, gifts, and blessings. As such, the constant themes which embrace MSC’s Christ-centered life are “He is Here” and “Thank You Lord”.
The spiritual well-being of the residents, staff, and volunteers of MSC permeates every aspect of MSC’s activities and informs the path for development and survival of the organization. Each apostolate, or home, maintains a chapel for community worship and the celebration of the sacred Mass as well as a perpetual adoration room for time in the presence of the Holy Eucharist.
Click here to learn more about the spiritual origins of Mustard Seed Communities, and to learn about the role that faith plays in our programs.