In 1924, Welthy Honsinger married Fred Fisher, a Methodist bishop working in India. The Fishers were well-acquainted with and respected by Tagore, Nehru, Gandhi and other prominent leaders of the Indian Independence movement. Following her husband’s death in 1938, Welthy Fisher travelled widely, returning to China and then to India.
On a trip to India in 1947, she was asked by Mahatma Gandhi personally to return permanently to India and continue her work in education there. Her life came full circle, as it was in India that she decided that the only way to eradicate poverty was through literacy training.
Dedicated to improving people’s lives in the “new India” through education, in 1953 Welthy founded Literacy House, a small, non-formal school that combined literacy with vocational training. However it was not long before Welthy and her fellow literacy pioneers realized that similar programs were needed throughout the world, and soon two non-profit organizations, World Education in New York City and World Literacy Canada in Toronto, were founded with the purpose of providing literacy training to those who needed it most.
Throughout her nineties, Welthy Honsinger Fisher also continued to travel widely. In 1978 she visited Beijing as the oldest foreign guest of the Chinese government. She then made two “farewell” trips to India in 1973 and 1977, but returned one last time in 1980 shortly before her death at the age of 101 in Southbury, Connecticut.
Welthy Fisher’s vision remains with World Literacy Canada and her unique life is a testament to her faith and perseverance. Her motto, a Chinese proverb, was the guiding force of her own life:
“It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”
Sources for this section were taken from:
Welthy Honsinger Fisher: Signals of a Century, by Sally Swenson; and
Three Decades for Literacy & Development: A History of World Literacy Canada