Belizean Reggae Artist Succumbs to Juvenile Diabetes
Organized by: Mariann Garner-Wizard
RIP "Mr. Agy V." 3 June 2015
In Belize recently, I met a lot of fine people, as always in that friendly land. Some are in the pleasant category of "enters your life for an hour" and will eventually become, for me, fading vacation memories.
But some, I hoped, had entered my life for the long haul. I had the good luck to meet Edran Vasquez of San Ignacio, Western Cayo District, a gentle, soft-spoken young man ravaged by late-onset juvenile diabetes.* Edran lived with an older brother, sister, and little nephew in a small, dilapidated, but spotless house on a busy street. They are not wealthy by any means, except in love of family.
His parents, whose wedding photo hangs in the living room, have passed. Father was a boxer and taught boxing; he was "Spanish," as they say in Belize, like "Latino," a word that covers a lot of territory. Mother was a beautiful black woman; all 8 of their children but one favored her; that sister died young. (Belize has a high rate of poverty, poor nutrition due in part to poor soils, and expensive medical care.)
Before I came home, Edran's brother, Eduardo, who I'd become close to, gave me a CD of Edran's music. He'd said his "little brudder" was a reggae singer/songwriter, but I'd mostly seen in Edran a sweet kid about my (blessedly healthy) son's age, but way too thin, whose feet no longer fit his shoes due to swelling. As a Mom -- heck, as a human being! -- it hurt my heart, but there wasn't much I could do about it -- OR SO I THOUGHT!
Back in Texas, I popped Edran's CD -- he performed as "Agy V." -- in, thinking I'd chill out to some nice music.
HA! In two seconds I was up and dancing to the irresistible, high-energy beat of the lead cut, "Blessings of the Sun God"! I haven't been so excited by a fresh sound in a long time.
I got on a mission to get GET EDRAN WELL so he could write and perform again. The YouTube video on this page ("Brand New Man") is one of cuts from that CD. (The video is just a down-and-dirty "clipstrip" I made to launch this campaign, but it's the music that counts!)
Another video, "My Thing," shot by Ras Devon & Jungle International, presents Edran 5 years ago, when he was healthy and having fun! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0UaVoSbPYc It's a kewl video, but "Agy V"'s music has evolved since then, so I've highlighted the more recent number.**
Everyone I shared Edran's music with, including Caribbean friends who keep abreast of the reggae scene, was impressed. He had a uniquely Belizean, very current sound, and was still growing as an artist.
Despite his best efforts and those of his caregivers, and despite the generosity of contributors to this campaign, Edran lost his battle with diabetes today, June 3, 2015. He passed away quietly at his sister's home, surrounded by his loving siblings, nieces, and nephews.
I wanted to post this update to say THANK YOU again to folks who have contributed, and let you know the outcome of this campaign. Also, if anyone would care to contribute toward Edran's final expenses, I feel sure the family would feel blessed by this, as all who knew Edran feel blessed to have known him. Any leftover funds will be go into juvenile diabetes support in Belize in some way, in Edran's memory.
*Juvenile diabetes (Type 1 diabetes) is a cruel, incurable, chronic, autoimmune disease that requires insulin treatment and monitoring for life. About 5% of diabetes cases are Type 1. Causes, still unknown, may include genetic and environmental factors. Besides insulin, blood test supplies and clean needles are necessary for proper care. A good diet and careful attention to micronutrients is vital.
** Here's the YouTube link to the song featured above, "Brand New Man": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0yqm0z_4mg&feature=youtu.be