Our History

2003 Safari becomes a Lifelong Journey for Four Friends

Joe and Elaine Griswold and Dana and Kathryn Hiscock stopped to see a village school in 2003 during an East African safari. They came home to New Jersey eager to share with their friends and churches about their experiences.

The journey continues today. The photos and the captions in the gallery above chronicles some highlights.

The Good Shepherd Childcare Centre opened in 2005. This was supported by Community Presbyterian Church, Brigantine, NJ.

By 2006 the four friends added Jackie Sarner and Judy Sconyers to their return trip to Uganda. These two women were also affected profoundly and came back home to spread the word.

Activity and commitment called for a 501(c)(3), and Real Partners Uganda was formed in 2006. Founders included the Hiscocks, the Griswolds, and Jackie Sarner.

By 2008, a more formal entity was needed in order to serve the community better. Tree of Life Ministries (TOLM) was formed as a CBO and Nonprofit Company Limited by Guarantee. The organization became the Ugandan counterpart to Real Partners Uganda.

The first thing that TOLM did was to create a school for all of the kids who had sponsors through RPU.

From 2009-2012 Mustard Seed Academy included 3 levels of Nursery School and a Primary School that added another level each year. Permanent classroom construction began, with the Nursery School benefitting first.

2009 – Four Xavier University students spent 6 weeks volunteering and enriching the lives of students and staff.

2010 – Tom Sheridan and nephew Luke Culleny visited. Tom boosted sustainability projects at Mustard Seed and in the village of Kalungi. Luke made a documentary: Service Safari: Vision of Hope.

2012 was a pivotal year. For the first year, MSA had a class of ‘candidates’ who were preparing for the important end of primary school exams called the PLE.

Kristen Pettet (now Haley) spent the year (2012) volunteering at MSA as a community health educator and all-around helper and friend. Auntie Kristen is remembered with love.

Service Safari: Vision of Hope (2010)

2012 was a year of expansion for RPU with new board members and over 20 visitors to Uganda.

2013 the first class of Mustard Seed Secondary School.

With RPU’s support, TOLM was able to buy 13 acres of land for the new Primary and Secondary Schools.

In early 2013, the eMI group of volunteer engineers and architects came to develop a master plan for Mustard Seed Primary and Secondary Schools–”The Green Campus.”

Development continued with a new level of secondary school being added each year until in 2016 the first class of secondary students sat for the UCE exams (Uganda Certificate of Education), and they excelled.

Temporary buildings were replaced with permanent ones (classrooms and dormitories) according to the master plan that eMI developed.

In 2017, a new program, Career Opportunity Pathway, was initiated to ensure that the MSA grads would be educated and able to be self-reliant after two years. The COP program was born.

2018 – Gifts given in memory of Joe Griswold, who died on Dec. 30, 2017, began to transform the main campus into an oasis of ‘green and clean.’