Fisher sees poverty first hand

Posted on October 17, 2009

Fisher sees poverty first hand

Mike Fisher is best known as a centre for the Ottawa Senators, but he's also known for his community service and dedication to helping others.

This past summer Fisher traveled to El Salvador for a four-day visit and got a first-hand look at the poverty faced by many of the locals.

"It's something I've always wanted to do and see," said Fisher. "I didn't really know what to expect. You see it on TV, but until you actually get there and see the people and their faces you don't know."

But upon arrival everything Fisher had seen on television was now right in front of him and he knew he would be forever changed.

Fisher had sponsored children through World Vision in the past, but being able to experience their life was awe-inspiring. He saw the challenges they faced in their daily lives and he knew he would never take another trip to the grocery store for granted.

On the first day Fisher was driven to a village in the mountains where the rugged terrain made it sometimes difficult for the vehicle to maneuver its way through. He later learned many of the families walked up that same mountain to acquire such amenities as water and fruit.

"It's not like here where things are ten minutes away," Fisher said. "There they have to walk, and it's not an easy walk, it's like a workout it's pretty much up the side of a mountain."

Fisher said he was also struck by the tiny shack one family of 11 called home. It was a one-room structure, about the size of a master bedroom, with a tin roof and bamboo for walls.

Despite their many challenges Fisher said everyone seemed happy, especially the children, with whom he loved spending time with.

While most children would love to have the opportunity to play with an NHL star, in El Salvador Fisher was just another visitor. 

"They were playful, they were smiling," said Fisher. "I think they knew we were there to help them. We'd throw a tennis ball and they would chase it, throw it around and have fun. It's sad but I think they also try to make the best of a bad situation."

Fisher also got to see how World Vision can turn a life around.

On the second day he met a woman who, with the help of World Vision, had set up a small market where she sold eggs, fruits and vegetables. She also had a small chicken farm set-up.

"You could see the difference the money from World Vision had made," said Fisher. "The worst for me was when you saw families go without any food. We saw one family who hadn't eaten in a day and didn't have any food. World Vision can make a difference."

Fisher admits once he returned home he looked at things differently.

"Right away you think about all the ways you waste money and they could eat for a year. It puts things in perspective and makes you realize how fortunate we are."

Fisher has already expressed interest in traveling to more countries and to continue to stay involved with World Vision.

"I enjoyed the experience," he said. "It was definitely eye opening and life changing. It made me want to help out and I feel fortunate to be in a position that I could help. I'd like to go to Africa one day and see life there."

Fisher might even have a fellow teammate along for the ride as Nick Foligno said he would be interested in getting involved.