Sometimes a dare can change your life. It certainly made Anne Fowler’s journey a lot more public. Her friends dared her to jot down stories from her decades of adventure; Fowler wasn’t about to back down.
Now 81, she divides her time between Haliburton and Honduras, where she started English schools, led volunteer groups, hosted doctors and dentists and more.
In I’ve Worn Many Hats, Fowler charts her life from childhood to present day. She said she “led a fairly reckless life” in which she did lots she’s proud of and much she isn’t. When in her 20s, Fowler experienced a traumatic assault.
“Emerging from the wreckage,” reads the synopsis, “she reinvented herself, started over, and proceeded to live on the edge with a risk-taking lifestyle.”
“What I’m trying to get across with having two sections of the book is how my life changed, my outlook on life changed, and I became less reckless,” she said.
The first year she was in Honduras she said she was awoken by a voice. “I heard God speak to me. And he said, your life is going to change, you’re going to take a different path. And that’s it.”
Fowler began the Porvenir English program to teach free English skills to local kids and adults, as well as kickstarting a healthy living education program, the second phase of which has been led by Haliburton dentist Dr. Bill Kerr and now operates out of a fully-equipped dental facility. Kerr attributes the Haliburton-based Volunteer Dental Outreach’s founding to Fowler’s inspiration.
There’s even a school in Honduras named after her, the Anne Fowler Bilingual School.
The book, however, balances Fowler’s milestones with stories of pain, loss and joy, with a few scandalous tales thrown in along the way.
“And there are things that happened during my life that I kind of said ‘Oh, well, tomorrow’s another day, Scarlet’, you know, and didn’t really give a lot of thought to it. Writing the book gave me the opportunity to really think about some of these things and think about what the consequences were. I think that helped. It gave me closure,” she said.
Fowler’s book has connected with more readers than she thought possible.
“I was contacted by young women, mothers of women, sisters of women, all over the United States, Canada, and Europe, who were telling me about their experiences and how they dealt with them. And, we’ve set up a dialogue. So, it’s been very therapeutic for these other people,” she said.
Fowler is already working on a new book, where she’ll collect the experiences of the more than 800 volunteers who’ve arrived in Honduras from Canada, the U.S and Europe to help teach English.
All the proceeds from that book will help fund a new project: a mobile library in El Porvenir.
Fowler is at an age when many are settling into retirement. Is she planning to slow down, or stop flying south for half the year?
“I’ve had friends asking me that for years,” she said. “You know, I just laugh at them. I’ll come back when I’m ready.”
Find out more about Fowler’s work at anne.honduranhope.net