Mustard Seed Communities founder Msgr Gregory Ramkissoon has pleaded with the Jamaican Government for greater assistance in supporting the cause.
Speaking at a service to celebrate MSC’s 40th anniversary at the charity’s Mahoe Drive headquarters in Kingston, August 29, Msgr Ramkissoon disclosed that throughout the organisation’s existence, each year it has struggled financially amidst the overwhelming cost for food, education and medicine that it has to provide for the more than 400 children, teens and adults under its care.
According to a Jamaica Observer report, Msgr Ramkissoon questioned why MSC has to pay statutory deduction. “I understand why people pay statutory deduction, but why Mustard Seed? The Government should pick up…We have three or four schools in the island for the children in the communities that we have to give a proper breakfast because they don’t come to school with anything to eat. And yet still we have to pay education tax. That doesn’t seem right to me,” he said.
The Trinidad-born priest however maintained that no child who is abandoned in Jamaica will ever be left without a home. “That’s the bottom line… And the second thing to that is no child will be abandoned twice. In other words, we don’t want to take an abandoned child and bring that abandoned child here and don’t look after the child…”
Msgr Ramkissoon further pointed out that there were eight children from one of the homes whose medical tubes have to be changed every three months at a cost of JM $40,000 (TT$2,000) each.
The non-profit organisation, which was founded in 1978 in the squatting community of Mona Commons, has since been providing lifelong residential care to children and adults with disabilities.
In addition to Jamaica, Mustard Seed has homes in Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Zimbabwe and Malawi. The organisation also cares for teenage mothers, along with their babies and for children living with HIV/AIDS in Jamaica and Zimbabwe.
Msgr Ramkissoon also told his guests that an effective water catchment system which supplied water to Jacob’s Ladder, one of its 13 homes, located in Moneague, St Ann became severely contaminated to the point where it could not be used.
The water system, which was funded in 2015 by a water harvesting project introduced by the UNDP-implemented Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme, supplied the nearly 100 adults with disabilities living on the compound with water for domestic and agricultural purposes.
He appealed for assistance to complete a new well-digging project to supply Jacob’s Ladder’s water needs.