Herb Buller has been making a worldwide impact for years.
On Jan. 27, the East St. Paul resident was recognized for his work, as he was honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal at World Vision Canada headquarters in Mississauga, Ont. Buller was not at the ceremony as he was on vacation in Florida.
Buller and his wife, Erna, have supported World Vision efforts in Africa all their adult lives, but boosted their contributions within the past decade, helping out with projects in Zambia and Ethiopia.
The crowning achievement was a banquet held in 2002 that helped fund a $1 million clinic in Zambia. While in the country to lend a hand getting the clinic going, the Bullers also helped with water-improvement projects and an HIV/AIDS treatment program. Buller said he recently received an update on the project, noting the clinic is doing well and has been passed along to the local community.
"I did a very thorough investigation of World Vision because I wanted to make sure that their expenses were right and that the money was going where they said it was going," he said from Florida. "Since then, we’ve been involved in numerous projects."
He noted his perception of the issues facing these countries has been altered as a result of his visits.
"You’re talking to the actual people and you’re seeing their living conditions. You get a completely different perspective," he said. "It makes the whole thing real. When you see it in pictures, it’s like a dream, but when you’re there, it’s the real thing."
Buller recalled meeting a girl, aged about 12 or 13, who was dying of AIDS.
"A year after we were there, in 2003, she died," he said. "That was very moving to us, because that was the age of some of our grandkids."
The Bullers are now involved in the Starting Strong project, which addresses malnutrition in mothers, infants and toddlers.
"It covers the pregnant mothers, when they get pregnant, and then all the way through for almost two years, so that these kids get decent nutrition and the mothers get decent care so these kids, when they’re born, they’re healthy," he said. "Within the first two years, if these kids don’t get enough nutrition, they’re going to be stunted in size and in brain development."
The Kitchen Craft Canada co-founder said while he was "surprised and overwhelmed" to receive the award, he was disappointed Erna wasn’t similarly honoured, as the couple work on projects together.