Letters from the Founder

BRIDGE being a close-knit family, its founder Shibu Joseph makes it a point to regularly communicate with all its members updating them on every development — progress of each beneficiary family, new additions to the family, funds raised, their utilisation and future plans of the organisation. These letters are very personal and touching even as they provide its readers a glimpse into the depth of the involvement of its members. We present you some of these letters.

A Reason to Worry… But Many Reasons to be Happy

My dear friends,

It is with a heavy heart that I write this. The reason is a serious tragedy that one of the BRIDGE families faced a little over a month ago. Those who have been with BRIDGE since its inception would know about the family of Hridin who was one of our first beneficiaries. His mother had qualified for the first BRIDGE Resilience Awards 2018 we had initiated to honour the grit and determination of families who had lost their breadwinners.

Hridin had lost his father following a cardiac arrest when he was in school. The blow suffered by the family was painful indeed as the family was left in the lurch without a breadwinner. Hridin’s family consisted of his mother and his little sister Hridya. His mother had to do odd jobs like tailoring to ensure the family survived. (I had written about the family in the BRIDGE book, ‘Giving Up Was NOT An Option’). Luckily for the family, Hridin was an extremely intelligent boy who scored very high marks despite the odds. He passed his Class 10 and later PUC in flying colours. He studied for BCom and CA in Bangalore’s Christ University and while pursuing the same, he gave tuitions to supplement the family income. It was when the family could not pay the fees for his CA course, BRIDGE came into their lives and took care of the fees part.

Subsequently BRIDGE was part of their growing up which they did gracefully. I rarely have seen a boy like Hridin who was so determined to reach his goal. He would walk over 5 kms to his school when he was studying in Class 10. While in college, he would wake up at 4.30 in the morning, rush for his CA classes and then BCom and come back home by 5 pm where his tuition students would wait for him. The tuition would go on till 10 pm and there was hardly some time for him to study for his courses. He gave up social life and kept telling his mom that he would wipe her tears once he completed his studies and got a job.

This March he kept his word when he cleared his CA exams and was officially declared a Chartered Accountant and bagged a job at KPMG. His mother’s joy knew no bounds. The first call she made was to our volunteer to thank BRIDGE for being with the family through their trying times and to say that Hridin would now be able to start contributing to BRIDGE as a thanksgiving gesture.

Friends, I struggle to write what happened later. In fact I was in a deep shock for a long time. Within a week of that call, the family went to their native place for a break before he started his new job. While holidaying with their cousins, the little sister of Hridin and their first cousin slipped into a river. Although he didn’t know how to swim, Hridin jumped into the river to rescue them. Alas, his legs got stuck in the mud at the bottom of the river and after a struggle Hridin lost his life. Along with him died his cousin sister while onlookers rescued his little sister.

Stunned as we were, we had no words to console the devastated mother and his little sister. After a month when I met the mother and her daughter along with my family, I must say, I could hardly speak. Please join me, my dear friends, in praying for this family that can see no light at all at the end of the tunnel.

While this is a tragedy that we have to live with, like the many that we witness in the lives of many of our BRIDGE families, I have some positive news to share with you. All the students of BRIDGE families who had appeared for SSLC and PUC exams this year cleared them with top scores. In fact some of them scored up to 96% marks which make all of us proud. We have helped secure admissions for all of them for their higher studies.

Another proud moment for me was when Shilpa who had been orphaned following the death of her mother (her father had passed away a few years ago) got married some two months ago. I really felt proud when I blessed her in the position of her father (she has always considered me as one) and gave her hand to her husband. She is quite happy in her new home and her happiness was doubled when last week she passed with distinction a lab technician course which she had been pursuing.

Let me now very quickly brief you on a select few other developments since my last mail:

* The two children of Saly (a BRIDGE beneficiary in Bajagoli in Karnataka) completed their graduation and have been placed at Wipro and Infosys. Saly also has now a job at a supermarket.

* Preetha, one of the early beneficiaries of BRIDGE, secured a job as a helper at a prestigious school in Kerala.

* Vijay, the headloader who fell from the truck and has been paralysed since the past 13 months and about whom I had written in my recent mail, has started showing signs of strength and is able to walk with the help of a person holding him. We have been financing his ayurveda treatment.

* Rosmin, who has a paralysed husband and two little children to take care of, secured a job as a nurse. Although it’s a struggle taking care of the family and managing the job, the gritty lady is able to manage it quite well.

* Our beneficiary Shyma, the lady with two sickly children and deserted by her husband, was fortunate to be selected by the villagers in North Kerala to be the recipient of their benevolence: They are building a house for her on a 3-cent plot which they had bought for her.

* Soni, the fourth daughter of a family (of eight children) from Bihar (settled in Begur) completed her degree course with high distinction. A brilliant girl, Soni had unsuccessfully appeared for UPSC exams this time. She wants to take up special coaching and make another attempt.

Friends, I have a few more developments to share and introduce some of the new families we have helped during the past two months. But for want of time, I shall wind up for now and keep it for my next mail.

But I cannot wind up without bowing my head to the generosity of the BRIDGE volunteers and our supporters. Besides our regular benefactors Shaji, Austin, Geetanjali, Prakash Pillai, Anitha Francis, and of course Michelle Mendonca who shares her personal savings regularly (she sent Rs 33,500 and Rs 32,400 in the new financial year itself), we have been helped immensely by Megha Engineering by way of Rs 4,90,000, Rakesh Bedi (Rs 25,000), Raju Pullan (Rs 20,000), besides of course my mom who gave me Rs 5 lakh on her 80th birthday last month to support social causes. A big thank you to all of you our dear benefactors for your constant support and concern.

Please take care

A BRIDGE Over Troubled Waters
The Anchor for the Anchorless