An area man fulfilled a long time dream of participating in a mission trip when he traveled to Haiti in February.
John Schwarz of the town of Chilton said it was something he wanted to do since high school. “I had three chances to go during high school, but I couldn’t go because I had to stay home and work on the farm,” he said.
Last summer a visit from a Dominican priest who came to speak to Schwarz’s church about missions, gave Schwarz another opportunity to go.
“I went to the Knights of Columbus and asked about starting a mission society to help countries that need help,” he explained. The Knights suggested Schwarz schedule a meeting with Jim Fitzgerald of Cleveland. The meeting resulted in Schwarz signed up to go before he even had a chance to report back to the council on his findings.
Schwarz left on Feb. 2 and returned on Feb. 16. Five members were in his group and they all funded their own trip which was organized by St. Therese Parish of Appleton.
In addition, those participating were expected to donate at least $2,000 toward the project they would be working on. Schwarz is grateful his portion was donated by the Knights of Columbus Council 2556 of Good Shepherd Parish.

Education center project
Upon arriving, Schwarz said the group traveled seven miles on a dirt path to their destination, a trip that took a half an hour to complete.
The group would be working on an education center for Sister Maria Marciano.
Marciano is a Brazilian, Catholic nun, who came to the Dominican Republic in 1994.
Marciano said she believes there are six axioms of a sustainable society including roads, water, housing and schools, academic and health education, agricultural and manufacturing productivity and fair trade.  
With programs and projects spearheaded by Marciano, the standard of living and nutrition of families living in the area has improved.  
Stressing the importance of education, Marciano has worked to ensure the majority of the children now attend school. She has successfully managed the building of schools and adult education in the region.  
Marciano’s road and water projects ensure successful transportation and clean drinking water for residents.
Establishing The Seeds of Life Agricultural Training Center in Haiti, area farmers are taught how to plant, tend to, harvest and commercialize crop production.   

Viewed farmers in action
Schwarz said they learned of 17 farmers who formed a co-op to sell potatoes to Frito Lay. “Each farmer has a few acres of land,” he said.
The work Schwarz and his group did included bending re-rod for a dormitory that was to be built for the Seeds of Life Education Center. “Then we started to get it ready for cement. We dug fill out of a hill.”
All of the work is done by hand with wheel barrows including the cementing of the building. “You don’t know how good you have it,” Schwarz commented. “At home we just call the ready mix truck. We take everything for granted.”
Schwarz said the people work side by side with mission workers. “We work and support them,” he said. “We don’t tell them how to do it, we work with them.”
Although the language barrier could be a problem at times, the group was able to communicate in other ways with the people of Haiti including hand motions.

Rewarding experience
“The hospitality of the people is incredible,” Schwarz said. “They are so happy and thankful. The kids also worked with us.”
Schwarz took two suitcases along donated by a hospital in Green Bay that were filled with medical supplies. He also took clothes and softballs for the residents.
Schwarz enjoyed the trip and would love to go again. “It was neat to see what we could help with,” he said.

The Sister Maria Marciano project that Schwarz worked on and other like it rely on private donations for the various projects which improve the lives of area families.
More information can be found at www.sistermariahaiti.com.