Mustard Seed Peace Project (MSPP) is a nonprofit organization located in Godfrey, Illinois. We received nonprofit 501(c) (3) status from the federal government in May of 2005. The mission of our organization is to empower families worldwide by helping them develop sustainable programs and to raise awareness of global needs through cross cultural sharing. We are currently working in the counties of Guatemala and Zambia.
We believe that education is the key to social change. But often the desire for education is impeded by illness brought about by unsanitary conditions, lack of concentration and energy due to poor nutrition or the families’ lack of monetary resources. This has brought MSPP to the understanding that it is essential that we not only address the needs of the children but also the needs of their families. By addressing the educational, medical, nutritional and economic needs of the people of our host countries we will alleviate some of these obstacles.
We understand that in order to foster independence and ensure social change we must: empower them people of our host countries with knowledge and skills, respond to the expressed needs of the people not our own self-interest and take time to learn the cultures of the people that we are working with, while building a personal relationship based on an attitude of respect, mutual sharing and exchange.
In January of 2004, MSPP made its first trip to the Ixcan region of Guatemala in Central America. The purpose of this trip was to assess the needs of the residents of the municipality of Playa Grande. This region is located on the NW border of the country and consists of approximately 173 villages. This area is known throughout Central America for witnessing horrific, systemic massacres of entire villages during a civil conflict that lasted over 30 years and ended in 1996 with the signing of The Peace Accords. This is an area that is struggling to heal and rebuild but because of the remoteness of the region the opportunities for outside help is very limited. It is for this reason that in early 2004 MSPP began developing a relationship with the families in the community of Virginia and chose the people of this community as partners in a combined effort to bring about social change and pave the way for futures full of opportunity for their children. We have purchased a little over 11 acres of land in the municipality of Playa Grande and on this land, with the help of the people of the village of Virginia we have dug a well, built a park and several other structures. One of these structures will be used as a clinic for our visiting medical teams.
Our most recent projects in Guatemala include a water program, a women’s economic development program and a school reconstruction project. In 2001 the families in Virginia expressed concern about the illnesses that their children were suffering because of their unsafe drinking water. To help with this problem MSPP began to develop a water program to provide clean, more easily accessible water for the families in the community. MSPP began researching water purifying systems and found that an organization called HELPS International with offices in Guatemala City that had very effective, relatively inexpensive systems. By March of 2011 we had partnered with HELPS and Phase I of our water program was complete. We had raised enough money to purchase a tabletop water purifying system for each of the families in the community.
Phase II of the program was to provide more easily accessible water for the families. The country of Guatemala experiences a dry season that extends from November to April. During this time all but one of the 6 existing wells in the community completely dry up. This forces the women to either stand in long lines at the one functioning well, often through the night or to travel longer distances to either the spring or the river.
In 2013, MSPP partnered with Engineers Without Borders and the student chapter of EWB at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville (SIUE). In, January 2014 we made our first assessment trip. Two of the students from SIUE will use this project as their senior project. Upon our return the engineering students began designing the water distribution system and raising money to begin the actual implementation of the program.
In 2012, Lewis and Clark Community College partnered with MSPP. We worked together for the next two years developing an International Immersion Program for the students at the college. In March of 2014, nursing students and staff from the college made their first international service trip to Guatemala. We spent four days in the community of Virginia addressing the medical needs of the families that reside there. We treated over 300 people.
In 2007, we expanded our work to the Western Province of Zambia. We are currently partnering to sponsor a program for 50-60 at-risk infants as well as a school lunch program in Lukulu. Our plans for Zambia include a community center to house programs for women, early child care and education, a library, a health center and a feeding program for Lukulu and the surrounding areas.