On March 16, 2009, there was a fire at Martha’s House, destroying the facility and everything in it. Thankfully, all the children and caregivers escaped safely. Mustard Seed decided to rebuild at a different location – at Jerusalem!, their facility in Spanish Town. At the new location, five cottages were erected in a semi-circle to house the children displaced by the fire. There the children have space to run and play.
To assist in the redevelopment of Martha’s House, Students Crossing Borders initiated the “Container Project”. Our main goal was to create an early childhood education playroom for the children of Martha’s House. To achieve our goal, we raised funds to purchase a 40 foot shipping container. Then we began gathering. We began filling the container with furniture and household supplies for the new houses – couches, kitchen tables, dressers and so on. Next we gathered furniture, toys, painting easels, equipment, and program supplies – everything that is needed in an early childhood setting. Finally, we packed doors, windows and air conditioners so that the container could be converted into a classroom once it arrived at the new Martha’s House. Still, the donations continued, and we received many other items that contributed to additional projects with our other Jamaican partners.
The container was then shipped to Jamaica and delivered to Jerusalem! where it was eventually converted into a new building – the Jerusalem! Developmental Play Centre, which officially opened July 15, 2010. We also interviewed and trained a newly graduated ECE student who currently works in the centre. The JDPC provides a child-directed, play-based environment for children 18 months and up. The centre is available to all the children on the Jerusalem site, including, children with special needs and those living with HIV/AIDS.