Q&A with the Founder

Shibu Joseph, Founder & Managing Trustee

I had always wanted to make a difference in the lives of my less-privileged fellow travellers of life. However, other than doing some isolated bits of charity, I couldn’t do much as I was immersed in the hurly-burly of corporate life. But a near-death experience that my family and I went through gave me clarity.

On July 29, 2015, I was driving back to Bengaluru from Kerala with my family after attending a function there. On Salem-Bengaluru highway, our car collided with a fast-swerving Tamil Nadu public transport bus and our car was reduced to a mangled heap. All of us were pulled out of what was left of the car with various complications. After some days in coma state and weeks of hospitalisation and subsequent months of convalescence, I had time to take stock of my life. A thought soon struck me that the time between life and death can just be a second caused by an accident or a serious illness. Not many get a second chance in life and since I was fortunate to have got one, I didn’t want it to go waste. So I decided to spend the rest of my life towards supporting families that were not so lucky as I was and lost their breadwinners in accidents or illnesses and are struggling to carry on with life. I felt that I got a fresh lease of life in order to take care of families who were not so fortunate. I decided to be their breadwinner, their solace, their go-to man by being an anchor for them. But I realised that with my limited time and resources, I wouldn’t be able to help many families. That’s when I discussed the plan with a few of my friends who encouraged me and assured their support. Thus was born A BRIDGE Over Troubled Waters.

Some years ago, a friend of mine had introduced me to the American musical greats Simon & Garfunkel and to their wonderful hit song, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’. I was hooked to this song the very first time I listened to it. I haven’t listened to any other song in my life as many times as this one. The compelling lyrics captures the very essence of what our organisation wants to do, that is, lay ourselves down like a bridge over troubled waters. What better name could I have conceived for a venture that wants to live this song in real life?

It’s been magical so far. It’s as though the world has been waiting for someone to start a venture of this nature. The people involved in this venture keep telling me that never have they found so much meaning and happiness in their lives as much as they experience it now. All our beneficiary families have told me that they experience a sense of belonging and feel that they have someone to turn to in their hour of need. Children of such families interact with our volunteers so freely and call us to inform about their small achievements in schools, or to discuss some issues. Even our donors say in unison that they are all contented that their contributions are making a difference in the lives of the less fortunate.

A BRIDGE Over Troubled Waters is a volunteer group of working professionals with independent income of our own. We are not here to earn a living out of it. We have come together motivated only by our belief that there is no greater happiness in this world than wiping the tears from the faces of the suffering and putting smiles on those faces. Besides, it is the firm belief of BRIDGE that every donation is the hard-earned money of a donor and therefore must fully reach the needy. So donors can be 100% sure that their entire contribution will reach the needy.
Yes, we do have costs. But my family has earmarked a considerable amount as corpus which helps us cover the costs of office and sundry expenses.
Of course yes. A BRIDGE Over Troubled Waters is a Trust approved by the Income Tax Department and we have obtained 80G certificate which makes donations eligible for tax exemption.
Absolutely not. Every penny adds to the pool. Just know that every pie is passed on to the needy families. We have contributors from Rs 1,000 and in multiples.
Our faith is our message. That is, there’s no greater happiness in life than wiping a tear from someone’s eyes and putting a smile on that person’s face. The material comforts that we all enjoy can only offer us limited pleasure. In our busy life of chasing targets and keeping up with the Joneses, we often fail to hear the cries of those who have lost to the game of life, due to a fatal accident or an illness. They could have been leading a life just as ours, if it were not for that fatal strike. It could have been us in that situation. So spare a thought for those who may have missed out on life. Give, while you still can. Extend your hand and offer to lay yourselves down like a bridge over troubled waters.