In 1978, Monsignor Gregory Ramkissoon started Mustard Seed Communities (MSC) in response to a disturbing trend on the streets of Jamaica: the abandonment of children with disabilities on sidewalks, empty lots and even in trashcans by families so marginalized and impoverished that they could not afford another mouth to feed. Monsignor Gregory decided to do something about it. He came across some unused land and gathered some friends and financial support to begin building a home for a handful of the children who had been living on the streets of Kingston. Thus began the first Mustard Seed Community.
Mustard Seed Communities has since expanded its programs to Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Today, MSC provides residential care to over 650 children and adults with disabilities, children affected by HIV, and teen mothers in crisis. They also have numerous outreach programs providing jobs, nutrition, training, and education to marginalized communities.
Mission volunteers are an integral part of Mustard Seed Communities’ programs. Prior to the pandemic, over 1,400 volunteers participated in mission trips every year. The children and adults with disabilities served by MSC does not leave their homes, so volunteers bring the world to these residents. The mission trips are carefully structured service experiences rooted in meaningful interaction with the residents. Core aspects of an MSC mission trip include tangible work projects to contribute to the residential care program.
Most importantly, the volunteers create lasting relationships with the individuals in Mustard Seed’s care. Many mission volunteers leave Mustard Seed Communities feeling that their life has been transformed by their experience. Founder, Monsignor Gregory Ramkissoon, would often tell people that he “…does not have to leave Mustard Seed to experience God’s love. The children and adults we are blessed to serve are a treasure trove of the grace of God living among us.”
Once a child or adult with disabilities comes to Mustard Seed Communities, they spend the rest of their life in MSC’s care. On average, because of the specialized care that many of the children need, it costs $1,000 to care for one child for just one month. MSC has over 650 children and adults with disabilities relying on Mustard Seed Communities to continue that care – not just for this year but for a lifetime.
In previous years, funds raised through the Diocese of San Diego Missionary Cooperation Plan have been used towards the care of these children. This year, your support is needed more than ever. Mission volunteers raise over $2 Million every year which goes to caring for the children. With mission trips cancelled due to the pandemic for the second year in a row, the crisis caused by the pandemic is continuing. Every need from food to medication to therapy must continue, and without this funding, the situation is dire.
When Mustard Seed Communities opened their first home in Jamaica, it was a dark time. MSC reached out in faith that others would join the work and the Holy Spirit would light the way.
We pray that you will join in supporting Mustard Seed Communities’ ministry and bring the light of Christ to the children and adults whom they serve. Learn more about Mustard Seed Communities and their mission to serve the most vulnerable at mustardseed.com.
Mustard Seed Communities is assigned to St. Mark’s Catholic Church in San Marcos for the 2021 Missionary Cooperation Plan.
By Margaret Kennedy, Associate Director of Fundraising and Stewardship, Mustard Seed Communities