Reference is made to the remarkable Mustard Seed in The Holy Bible through powerful imagery to depict the power of a little faith growing into the 'big idea': the growth from the humble beginnings of the church from the faith of few to become a source of food, rest, and shelter, for both believers and non-believers.
So it is with the Mustard Seed Communities (MSC) - an international charitable organisation founded in 1978 in Kingston by Roman Catholic priest, Monsignor Gregory Ramkissoon. More than 30 years ago, through divine inspiration, Monsignor Ramkissoon and his team
of supporters sowed one tiny mustard seed in the community of Mona Commons, St Andrew, which has grown into a large and beautiful tree with 13 branches throughout Jamaica, providing for the well-being of approximately 400 children and young adults in Jamaica.
There are 12 other MSC branches scattered among Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Zimbabwe - all providing life-giving shelter to children in desperate need, many of whom were abandoned and disabled. In fact, over the last 33 years, the organisation has mushroomed into the largest non-governmental organisation (NGO) in the Caribbean and Central America, caring for abandoned children with disabilities, orphaned children
living with HIV/AIDS, and
pregnant teens in crisis.
In Jamaica, the MSC employs close to 400 local workers, offering jobs, training and economic viability to people who would otherwise have little opportunity to break out of the cycle of poverty which grips their lives. Oversight of the organisation is given by a board of directors chaired by the Archbishop of Kingston, the Most Rev Charles Dufour.
Largest Caribbean NGO
So much has the Mustard Seed grown, MSC is now the largest NGO in the Caribbean and Central America caring for abandoned children with
disabilities, orphaned children living with HIV/AIDS, and pregnant teens in crisis throughout Jamaica.
However, maintaining this caring tree and its multiple branches over the many years is often put to the test. Indeed, the adage of the 'village raising the child' has been an invaluable source of support over the years, with outpouring from fundraising efforts such as the annual Powerful Women & Men Perform for Charity, staged by friends and well-wishers, and the former Capital & Credit's Pickney Love at Christmas concerts, which ran for over a decade.
But the team at MSC has long embraced and practised self-help, with income-generating activities such as fish farming, egg and chicken farming, growing vegetables, a bakery, bee-keeping, livestock rearing (sheep, goats, pigs and cows), creating greeting cards from local banana leaves, and pottery making. Located at MSC's headquarters, My Father's House is a pottery studio, where many sought-after and admired pieces of ceramics that are both functional and true pieces of art are created. Each piece is handcrafted at the highest quality standards.
The Mustard Seed Communities will be staging a three-day exhibition of its potter, Patrick Hall's
latest collection of ceramic
art, along with select paintings from acclaimed artist P.J. Stewart
at the Spanish Court Hotel