NOT all superheroes wear capes.
Some, like Lalman “Doggie” Seepersad, wear a harness
But to his 11-year-old daughter Michelle, he is a superhero.
Sunday Newsday spoke with the aspiring artist and her father on his role in helping provide internet connectivity throughout south and central Trinidad.
The fifth standard student of Avocat Village Primary School, when asked how she felt that her father was playing a part to allow other children to connect with each other over the internet, said: “I feel proud.”
Beaming with pride, Michelle said her father makes sure that she attends extra classes on weekends and for extended hours during the week, in order for her to pass for her her top choice – Iere High School, Siparia.
The Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) student said she boasts to her classmates that her father supplies internet to children across the country. The exam which has been delayed owning to the pandemic is now scheduled for July 1.
Seepersad, on hearing her daughter’s praises said: “Me personally I feel real glad. I feel happy knowing that I am providing them (children in the central and south region) that access.”
Seepersad is a senior technician with cable and internet provider Flow. He has been working there for the past 18 years, starting off as a lines man.
Seepersad said he has no regrets being seen as a superhero.
“In some rural areas we went to people wanted a three pole span to get to them and we did it in a day. The gratefulness of the people!”
He added that it was sad for him knowing that there are some children without internet access who were preparing for SEA.
No superhero is complete without their sidekick and support team. For Seepersad, that is his Flow family. Communications manager at Flow, Yolande Agard-Simmons said Seepersad is part of the team that facilitated a programme called Triple A. That programme provided schools with free internet access when teachers were allowed to teach virtually from the classroom at the beginning of the pandemic.
His day of fighting the evil that is a lack of connectivity begins at 4 am when we gets up from his bed at his Rousillac home to get to work at 6.30 am in La Romain. The day’s work is a mixture of providing internet and cable or repairing disrupted lines. The days when he and his team of four are on call, they take care of all reports of outage from Caroni to Icacos and all areas in between.
Agard-Simmons said Seepersad and his team along with others also take part in an ongoing preventative maintenance programme. She said since the start of the pandemic there has been a 17 per cent uptick in usage between last year and this year. Flow also partnered with non government organisations to make internet available to those in need for free, free internet to deaf community and boosted customers' speed at no additional cost last year.
Seepersad said he is concerned about his safety while at work but is comforted that his bosses provide him and his team with the necessary protective gear. His first born is also worried but she is assured by his words that he is being safe.
Seepersad, when asked how he is dealing with the pandemic and encouraging his daughter to prepare for SEA while studying at home said he is coping.
“I am not much of a big limer, it ain't really have any effect on me. The children are affected but they understand that they can’t be out there, no beaches, that kind of thing.”
At home, Seepersad’s superpower is in the kitchen.
“I am a good cook. My superhero powers at home is me as a cook. I cook anything, bar-be-que, curry duck, things like that.”
Michelle, who according to father, "could real draw" did not confirm or deny this claim. Agard-Simmons promised when the pandemic is over that Sunday Newsday will be allowed to test her artistic ability.
Until then Seepersad will continue to use his powers for good, by installing one router at a time.