How did you spend your summer vacation?
If you are like most students you probably enjoyed sleeping late, hanging out with friends, and maybe a family vacation or two. But, for these seven siblings, summer vacation meant a chance to raise awareness about hunger and funds for the World Food Programme.
For the popular reggae artists, The Wailers and Duane Stephenson, making a difference in the world is a way of life. The long-time supporters of WFP have been champions for the world’s hungry, raising awareness and funds at every concert they perform. The same commitment is shared with Wailer’s front man Aston “Family Man” Barrett’s seven children, as fighting hunger has become a family affair for this reggae clan.
Since 2008 the children, whose ages range from 3 to 18, have been working hard to give the hungry a voice. Their activism includes sharing hunger facts with the audience while on stage at their father’s concerts and then asking for and collecting donations. Ian, the oldest has even travelled to the Middle East with his father supporting WFP, sat on a panel in Washington DC as a special guest of WFP USA sharing his experiences and has attended two ceremonies in Washington DC honouring Hillary Clinton.
Another way the young group is continuing to make a difference in order to give other kids a chance is by spending time during their summer holidays raising money for WFP, they have been raising money at grocery stores for the past 2 years and this year they sold the Africa T-shirt. The shirts were launched earlier this year by Duane Stephenson, in collaboration with Hiho Batik, in response to the devastating drought in the Horn of Africa. All of the proceeds go to the World Food Programme to assist with the crisis.
For the past several months, the young activists have been working hard to sell the Africa T-shirts in Nantucket at the West End Market and Something Natural. The kids would bike down to the West End Market and set up shop at the picnic table outside, appealing to the beach going customers to open their hearts for the Horn of Africa.
Maya, 12, said of the experience, “I like selling the shirts because one shirt feeds 40 kids, and the people buying the shirt learn about the famine in the Horn of Africa that is happening now, as well as getting an awesome shirt.” And when we asked Oralee, 6, who is rarely seen in anything other than her favourite shirt, she said she enjoyed doing it because she liked helping the World Food Programme.
When the family was buying sandwiches one day, Ethan noticed how busy Something Natural was and came up with the idea to sell shirts there, he asked the owner Matt Fee and he kindly agreed to support their efforts. The children sold over $3,000 in shirts, feeding more than 3000 children in the Horn of Africa.
As Selah, 8, said, "Collecting donations there was fun," she liked talking to the other kids who bought shirts from her. For Ethan, the experience was much more business like, as he zoomed in and out of the line and rarely took no for an answer. He also enlisted younger brother Noä, 4, to help with the “tougher customers.” Ethan, 10, said “I want to help others because I want to help make a difference in the world and give other kids in the world a chance.”
To date, the children have raised more than US$6,000.00! But for these resolute children, heading back to school will not stand in the way of their goal. The children hope to continue their efforts by selling the shirts at their school, The Country School, and other schools throughout the country. When the earthquake hit Haiti, they engaged their school to play Freerice. Maya said of Freerice, “It is an educational and fun way to nourish minds and bodies, we have so much here in America, we must all learn to share.”
“I hope that we feed many people and raise awareness in everyone.,” Ethan said. Then he added that he “will keep working until there are no more hungry children.”
Hunger can often be an overwhelming issue, but not for this bunch – they took matters into their hands to make a difference in the lives of people all over the world.
What will you do?