Mark and Cate Toney moved to Jamaica December 16th ,2014, three weeks after they got married.
They work hand in hand with three different ministries/nonprofits: Mission of Sight, Morning Star Ministries, and Cornerstone Jamaica. During the week they visit primary schools with a Plus Optix Portable Screener to do free eye testing on kids .On the weekend they travel way up into the mountain of Good Hope in Santa Cruz, where they work with a woman by the name of Nurse Karen, who started Morning Star Ministries after moving to Jamaica 15 years ago. A few years ago Nurse Karen took on about 5-10 boys and started investing in their lives. She started taking them through a biblical leadership class. The kids who have graduated from her class have gone on to work professionally in Jamaica and have become world changers. The Toneys now lead this ministry, and it has grown to over 40 kids. On Saturday Cate runs a day camp for the little kids (12 and under). Cate says, “These kids on the mountain have become our family and have so easily worked their way into our hearts. They don’t come from much and some have the hardest stories I have ever heard but when they walk up to us with a big smile on their faces, I have never seen more joy.”
Then there is Cornerstone Jamaica ..Cate says,” We have just recently become partners and could not be more excited. This is a way that we will always be able to stay connected to Jamaica”. In Jamaica there is no mandatory testing for kids before they get into school to get their eyes tested. Research shows that 1 in 4 children should have some sort of corrective lens. In Jamaica, however, in a school of 400, maybe 1 or 2 kids have eye glasses. It has also been said that 60% of kids in special needs classes in Jamaica are only in there because they can’t see well but don’t know it– because their eyes have never been tested. Mark and Cate have partnered with Mission of Sight and Cornerstone Jamaica on their initiative called “See Better.Learn Better”.
The effort is to not only get these kids custom eyeglasses, but also to work with the Jamaican Government to make eye testing mandatory for all kids before going to school. Mission of Sight and Cornerstone Jamaica work hand in hand, understanding the importance of these kids seeing better so they can learn better, because they are the future of Jamaica! Cate goes on to say, “ We were called here. Our first month here was tough and it was hard understanding the culture. But, once we got into the lifestyle of Jamaica we LOVED it. We love the food, culture, music, language, way of life, and most of all, the people..It is where we started our future, our marriage, our family, our giving of time and self, and where we have planted a part of our hearts. No matter where Mark and I live, Jamaica will always be where it all began. Cornerstone Jamaica is the backbone to what we do and why we love Jamaica so much.. One Love..”