04/10/09 - Blackwell Thomas- The Southern
CARBONDALE - Seated quietly inside a ballroom at the Student Center at Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Thursday, a crowd of about 200 got a firsthand look at the work of a world traveler, volunteer and philanthropist.
As images drifted by on a screen at the front of the room Howard Buffett a United Nations goodwill ambassador against hunger showed the crowd the fruits of his work as a photographer and, in the process, told the stories of many of the world's less fortunate.
There was a picture of a girl badly burned after a refugee tent she was sleeping in caught fire. The tent was unwittingly coated in kerosene, which was used as water repellant.
Then there was the shot of the little girl asleep amidst a pile of debris and trash in a Mumbai slum. That was followed only a few seconds later by a photo of a landmine victim fitting himself with his prosthesis.
The pictures were stark, painful and powerful. When viewed as a whole, Buffett said he hoped they deliver powerful messages on immigration, world hunger and access to fresh water and health care.
"That's a quick trip around the world," Buffett said of his slide show. "Sometimes it's a little depressing; sometimes it's a little overwhelming."
Buffett, who is the son of billionaire financial wizard Warren Buffett, said he's been lucky to have the opportunity to work and help ease the plight in some countries. Much of his efforts have focused on hunger.
"I'm incredibly fortunate that my parents gave me the foundation to help literally millions of people around the world," he said. "It's a great privilege."
Over the course of about 90 minutes Buffett treated those on hand to his pictures and, while the stories of some might have been dark, Buffett said he remains positive about the possibility for success in some of the world's struggling countries.
For those looking to help Buffett suggested trying to tackle one issue at time.
"Find the one thing you really want to do something about," he said. "Find that and focus on that."