Give a boy a fish and he’ll eat for a day, give a boy a rod and he’ll eat for a lifetime.
That’s the central idea behind Karl Eha’s new trade-in exchange at Mission’s Trout Creek Farm & Eha Sports. He’s putting out the call for people to bring in their old fishing gear to exchange for store credit.
He plans to fix it up and distribute it to impoverished children in Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
“I’m just starting, but I’m a bulldog once I get going,” Eha said. “When I was a kid in Germany in 1945 after the war, there was no food. A line, a few hooks, a sparkplug, or whatever, man, I was king of the hill – and I got food.”
The memory of being a hungry child sticks with the 81-year-old Eha, who said he witnessed similar extreme poverty when he drove from Whitehorse down to South America on a motorcycle in 1957.
“I met an awful lot of interesting people … And speaking the lingo, you get to know a lot of folks – and you see the poverty,” he said. “It’s been on the back of my mind for quite a few years.”
Two years ago, a member of the Mission Rod and Gun Club was heading to Cuba, and asked Eha if he had any fishing equipment he was willing to donate to the kids there. He did, and the gifts were received with great enthusiasm, Eha said.
Eha said he’s been in the “trading, wheeling and dealing business” for most of his life, having previously owned the BC Sports Exchange in Vancouver.
He said he’s always maintained an attitude of, “Why junk it? It’s still good, it’s probably better than the new stuff.”
For potential trade-ins, he’s looking for old equipment hanging around in garages, basements, attics that are “Too good to throw away, and not good enough to use.”
“If it’s not good enough I’ll try and fix it. If it can’t be fixed I’ll put it in a barrel for parts.”
Although not Catholic himself, when he’s collected enough equipment, Eha said he’s going to bring it to the Catholic Church, because they have the best network to distribute to the poor across Latin America.
“The priest is somebody that looks after the flock down there,” he said. “There’s no graft involved. There’s no money to be paid for the ransom of redistribution.”