Stephanie Marley’s words may have sounded familiar. But the sentiment was all her’s.
“Help the weak when you are strong,” Marley, BA’99 (Psychology), told a crowd in attendance in the University Community Centre’s McKellar Theatre on Friday. The line was, of course, paraphrased from her famous late-father Bob Marley’s song, No More Trouble.
But the belief in giving back to create a better world is what Marley is all about today.
While attending Western in the late 1990s, Marley volunteered at Vanier Children’s Services for her Psychology program. She admits her experiences stayed with her long after the course.
“Even though I was getting credit for volunteer work, I realized it was really the intrinsic feeling I had of helping others, of having impact on those that were in need,” she said. “That really, really stayed with me. Even more than the credits I was earning.”
So powerful the feeling, that when she returned to Kingston, Jamaica, she was determined to give back. She spent time working with the Bob Marley group of companies including Tuff Gong, the Bob Marley Museum and Bob Marley Foundation. She is currently the director of her mother’s organization – the Rita Marley Foundation.
Through her work with both foundations, she finds herself giving back to children in Jamaica, as well as elderly and infants in Africa.
Although her famous name may open some doors, anyone can help make a better world.
“You don’t have to be a celebrity. You don’t have to be rich. You don’t have to be a large corporation to be a humanitarian,” Marley stressed. “What it really takes is that inner drive, that instinct to become passionate toward others, having a care for a cause.
“Giving back – it is so important. I think it’s something that helps to develop a society. It doesn’t have to be money. It can be time, or whatever resources you have.”
In her family, Marley admitted, they almost have an “overload” of the kindness gene.
“It can be turned on you sometimes, because people take your kindness for weakness,” she said. “You have to know how to manage it.”
Marley was raised to look out for “our brothers, our neighbours, even the man on the street.” In her home, One Love was more than a hit song.
“It’s a way of life. That’s the way we were raised,” she said. “I strongly believe the fame my parents earned, the success they have achieved, is because they’re gifted with kindness. I think Bob’s true purpose was – all the work, all his music – for him to achieve that level.
“With what his legacy has left behind, we are able to help so many people.”
Marley hopes to return to school one day and earn a masters in Social Work, to counsel people in need.
“Sometimes,” she said, “we just don’t have people to talk to. If you want to experience deep appreciation, do something for somebody else.”
Marley was invited to campus by the Caribbean Student Organization to help kick off its Culture Show Weekend.