A reproduction of Surinamese artwork ‘Grantangi’ presented to the Guyanese, Ministry of Health

While we prepare to celebrate Holi and Easter in an appropriate way, the pressure on Guyanese healthcare is not diminishing. The number of new infections with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that can cause COVID-19, obliges us more than ever to follow the COVID-19 measures very consciously and with respect, for ourselves and for others. In particular, one should think of the selfless health care workers, who work day-in and day-out for COVID-19 patients.

As a token of gratitude to these hard-working front-line workers, such as nurses, doctors, and all other health care workers, Surinamese graphic artist Ray Daal created the mixed media painting “Grantangi.” This is the Sranan Tongo word that means both “Thank you” and “Please:” “Thank you” for your hard, selfless work and let us “please” keep ourselves and others safe and free from COVID-19.

Doctor Ruben del Prado, former UNAIDS Director in Guyana, presented a reproduction of the artwork “Grantangi” to Dr Leslie Ramsammy, Senior Advisor to the Minister of Health today, in the absence of the Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony.

“These care heroes don’t have a party during the holidays. Day-in day-out; day and night – they work tirelessly. Please let us do everything we can, not to make their lives more difficult,” said Dr. del Prado during the presentation of the artwork to Dr Ramsammy.

Del Prado futher said that “these health heroes, combined with the mixed media painting, by Surinamese artist Ray Daal, “Grantangi,” were my inspiration for the song ‘Grantangi,’ written and sung by me.  With this song, predominantly in English, with snippets of other languages spoken in Suriname, Sranan Tongo Sarnami Hindi, Saramacan, Javanese, Spanish and Dutch, I thank these amazing human beings for everything they do, while I call on everyone to please be responsible to do their part, by protecting themselves and others.”

Dr Ramsammy, himself a former Minister of Health, who has worked closely with Dr del Prado for many years, and on this occasion speaking on behalf of Minister Anthony, said that this special recognition to the frontline health workers would be displayed prominently in the Ministry, namely at the front entrance of the Minister’s Secretariat,” so that everyone who comes in will see this. It will also serve as a daily reminder about the invaluable work done by these health heroes.

Ramsammy further said: “This little, humble occasion is an opportunity, for me, for this Ministry and for the people of Guyana, to highlight the significance of the contribution of these caregivers at the center of the many success of the health sector of Guyana. I also want to use this occasion to urge the global public health authorities, the UN and others, to recognize the role that the rank-and-file health workers play in delivering care, day-in and day-out, in the health centers and the hospitals throughout the world, and to reward them for this is a meaningful way.”

Dr Ramsammy said that we have not learned enough from the global pandemic from 1918, and that he hopes that the world will learn from COVID-19 to better prepare “because the world will definitely face more pandemics in the coming years. And we shouldn’t be so arrogant to think that the next one will come only after another 100 years.”

To Dr Ramsammy Del Prado said: “My regards to you in these difficult times for humanity. And a very, very special “thank you” to you (!!) for your steadfast and tireless public health leadership for so many decades.”

Lyrics of the song ‘Grantangi:’

GRANTANGI (Thank you)

Those tired eyes are all I see above your hidden smile,

protecting you and me.

Hard-working; caring for lives all day.

Hardly at home, so now I have to say:

“Grantangi” for all the love you have to carry on

For being fit for purpose all along

And what I did for you was write this song

Dhanyabad. Tu pyar hai – You are love and you are light

Outstanding star example, shining bright

And what we must do now is do things right

Fu de sembe who don’t know

I show the things you do, in white and green and blue

You leave your home at dawn and dusk to serve

Rewarded so much less than you deserve

Gracias por todo el amor que tienes

For having a big heart

Well, it is long overdue that now we do our part

Kesuwun

It’s so much more than what is known,

and should inspire us to do what’s right and good

It’s thanking you voor alles wat je doet

“Grantangi” fu ala lobi san yu e tan gi

Now f’tan gosontu, a fe’rantwortu de tap’ wi

Link to the music video Grantangi:  https://youtu.be/sfFpkJSpd_c

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