Sadeke Brooks, Staff Reporter
Collaborating with the World Food Programme (WFP), reggae singer Duane Stephenson is donating his music and brand to help feed people facing hunger across the world.
Speaking with The Sunday Gleaner, Stephenson explained that, along with The Wailers, he did a song for the organisation, A Step For Mankind, last year. It was used then as a theme song for their annual walk and is being used during their latest social-media initiative, 'We Feedback'.
Established in 1994, WFP is the food-aid arm of the United Nations system. Food aid is one of the many instruments that can help to promote food security, which is defined as access of all people at all times to the food needed for an active and healthy life.
With We Feedback, participants choose their favourite foods and enter it in the Feedback Calculator on the World Food Programme website, with an estimated cost of the food attached, and then it will calculate how many children that total would feed. The next step is to donate exactly that amount or multiples of that amount.
In addition to that, Stephenson said they also decided to make and sell T-shirts.
"We came up with the idea to make T-shirts. All of the proceeds will be donated to the World Food Programme," he told The Sunday Gleaner.
He added that the T-shirts are available online at worldfoodpro gramme.org, wailers.com and duanestephensonmusic.com. He said they are also available at events where he and the Wailers perform.
When the first batch of 100 T-shirts were sent to a show with The Wailers in Alaska, Stephenson said every piece was sold, and they now have 50 orders to fill.
"Things are looking good and a lot of people are ordering online. It's still early days yet but we really hope that it will make a great dent. We just started a few days but all indications are that it will definitely be something good," he said.
Giving willingly of his time and efforts, Stephenson said he is pleased to be part of the initiative.
"It's a great thing. Many of us are not rich but the little you can do to help on a magnitude like that is a great opportunity, I think. Singing is something I would be doing anyway, so if I can do that and still help, all the better," he said.
Stephenson said there are also plans to do a site visit to Colombia in September. However, he said, he has a tentative show date for Africa, so the site visit might be there instead.
As it relates to his career, Stephenson said he recently returned from a European tour with Tarrus Riley, Dean Fraser and the Black Soil Band. During the tour they visited countries such as Spain, Germany, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Holland and Norway. In the coming week, he said he will be performing at Capleton's 'St Mary Mi Come From' show. By August, he will be going to Suriname, then off to California to record his EPK (electronic press kit). In September, he will be going to South America.
The artiste said he is now promoting his song, Better Tomorrow, and his album, Black Gold.