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Essential Dads

Author: Carla Zuill 

Dealing with Covid-19 has been challenging for parents throughout the island. Home schooling, endless Zoom classroom sessions, quarantining, curfews, and keeping their energetic children indoors. Can someone please pass a glass of bubbly when this is all over! While some parents have been able to stay home with their children during this pandemic, others have had to venture out daily because they are essential workers on the island. 

Bermuda Parent Magazine honours three fathers who have been committed not only to parenthood, but their jobs. 

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 EMT  

Antonio Russell 

Thirty-seven-year-old Antonio Russell has been an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital for 12 years. He is the father of four beautiful daughters, Mhila, 11, Yara, 19 months, and one-year-old twins Akaio and Akiko. 

Doing his job on any day of the week can be challenging, but Antonio loves it: “I love that my job can take me anywhere, no two days are alike. I’ve had to help people from all walks of life, and it’s nothing more gratifying than truly knowing you helped someone during possibly the worst time in their life. 

“They say helping people is its own reward, but I get paid to do it. The love and appreciation people have for me when they see me in passing means more to me than the paycheck I receive. Its humbling to know that I truly helped someone.” 

Because his duties require him to interact closely with people, Antonio has to be diligent when it comes to protecting his health, especially because the last thing he wants to do is put himself at risk and expose his children to Covid-19. He tells Bermuda Parent Magazine, “At times, during this pandemic I’ve found myself limiting interaction with my little ones. Less hugs and kisses, and also spending time that would normally be spent together, in a different room. 

“While my job has basic standards in place for protecting ourselves and our patients even before the pandemic, those measures have been increased. But it’s hard not to be nervous at times, knowing that if I’m exposed to anything harmful, I could potentially be taking it home to my loved ones. “While, his three younger daughters are too young to understand the dangers of the Coronavirus, Antonio says 11-year old Mhila is always reminding him to wash his hands and wear his mask when outdoors. 

He says he is counting the days until things return to normal so that he can spend quality times with his daughters at the same time. “It’s a lot of work but nothing makes me happier.” Antonio loves being a father and gives credit to his very own parents for making him the man he is today.  

“Thank you to my father, Anthony “Toe” Dill for showing me that a real man takes care of his children no matter the circumstances, and thank you to my mother, Jackie Russell, for all the help and lessons you have given me regarding parenting. I’m a better father because of you both.” 

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Firefighter 

Ryan DeSilva 

Ryan DeSilva has been an officer with the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service since January 2011. The father of five- year-old Kaiden, Ryan says he loves the role that he has in the community as a firefighter. The 33-year-old from St. George’s admits the pandemic has made him nervous because of the risk of contracting and passing on the Coronavirus to his beloved family. 

Although he tries to maintain normalcy at home despite the limitations which have been placed on the island over the last few weeks, Ryan says work has been affected. 

“The pandemic has affected the fire service through the amount of personnel protective equipment we have to wear to emergencies as well as station hygiene.” Ryan’s eyes light up as he talks about Kaiden. 

“What I love most about being a father is doing my best to ensure my son is better than me in all aspects of life—Ryan 2.0. 

“The first thing I will do when life goes back to normal is have a family barbeque, swimming, watching football and going for rides on my motorbike—all of the things I enjoy doing with my son.” But in the meanwhile, Ryan says Kaiden is unbothered by the pandemic: “When explaining to my son about the Coronavirus I believe he understands when it’s simplified for him, but still all he wants to do is just play.” 

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Sanitation Worker/Hospital Employee 

Meshach Wade 

Meshach Wade is the proud father of six— Shachkeil, 25, Nkosi, 21, Shania, 

20, Shamora, 10, Kenzo, 6, and five- year-old Kenzi. He not only has job as an essential worker, but two. 

For the last 17 years he has been employed by the Bermuda Government as a garbage collector and has been working part-time with the Bermuda Hospitals Board in Environmental Services for the last decade. 

While the 47-year-old acknowledges that he is potentially putting himself at risk with both of his jobs, Meshach says he has no concerns because he feels well protected from exposure to the Coronavirus. “The pandemic has not made me nervous at all. When working as a garbage collector, my department has provided us with information about Covid-19 and has provided us with the necessary PPE gear. At the hospital, it’s the same. I work on the Intensive Care Unit and on Gosling Ward. I make sure the ward stays clean. Infection control is a very important part of my job.” 

Meshach says he hasn’t had to explain much to his younger children about the effects of the Coronavirus. 

“My girlfriend is a nurse at the hospital. She has had talks with them and has shown them videos. She also made sure I knew what I needed to know about the virus as well. We keep reminding the kids of the importance of social distancing and washing their hands. They get it! I take the necessary precautions before interacting with them. I get showers at work and put clean clothes on. I make sure I wash my hands, but I did this on a regular anyway before Covid-19.” 

Saying he didn’t have much of a father figure growing up, Meshach says it’s important for him to be an involved father: “I love that I am able to watch them grow and do all I can to help them be successful. I love talking to them about life. They depend on me and I do my best to make it happen for all of them. 

“My children who live overseas, I talk to them frequently via Whatsapp. I make sure they are keeping themselves safe.”  

Meshach says his family life has not changed much since the pandemic outbreak: “We have kept things as normal as possible at home.” Along with going swimming and fishing with his youngest children, Meshach says he enjoys listening to the 20 love birds he owns, listening to music and relaxing. 

Job well done, Dad. You deserve it. BPM