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.

Back to School, Thanks to BRIDGE

Dear friends,

This is my promised second mail of the month introducing new members of our growing BRIDGE family. But before that let me update you with a positive news. One of our BRIDGE family members who had tested covid positive has been discharged from a covid care centre and is now quarantined at home. She does not show symptoms anymore. Thank you all for your prayers.

I am happy to share with you today the happiness of six girl students (and their families) who are grateful to BRIDGE because they are able to continue their studies with our support.

Meet Shradha of Marathahally, Bengaluru, a class topper, who had to stop her Class IX online classes as her mother could not pay her Rs 40,000 annual fees along with arrears of Rs 14,000 from the previous academic year. Their father, an auto rickshaw driver had left the family leaving Shradha, her elder sister and mother who has a small job at ‘More’ super market to fend for themselves. To cut the long story short, BRIDGE spoke to the school management and got the fee reduced to Rs 30,000. BRIDGE has paid this amount and we have asked the family to pay the arrears in instalments. Shradha had given up hope that she would be able to continue her studies. She has now resumed her classes and has been calling/messaging me every other day thanking and updating us about her classes.

Kavya is another girl from Samanahally, near Tumkur in Karnataka. She had scored 87.4% in Plus 2 CBSE from Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya. Although her father (47) was a petrol pump attendant earning only Rs 6,000, the family was somehow able to manage to make both ends meet. She wanted to appear for NEET as she dreams of becoming a doctor. Her father had encouraged her to follow her dream assuring her that he would do all he could to fund her studies. Little did he know that a week after her results, he would depart from the world following a heart attack while at work. Due to covid restrictions, he could not be saved as the nearby hospital sent him away and breathed his last just outside the hospital. Kavya has a mother who has thyroid issues and needs surgery. The mother is trying to get a job as a sweeper in a school nearby. Kavya has a younger brother who has completed his Class X. With their anchor gone, the family has no one to turn to. One of our volunteers visited the family and made enquiries and verified the details. We have decided to support the family with a monthly subsistence support and we have asked Kavya to go ahead with NEET preparations. Alternatively, she is also trying to get admission for nursing. The BRIDGE assurance has come as “God’s direct intervention”, as the family puts it, and that’s another happy family BRIDGE has created.

Sandhya is a 3rd year BCom student from Mudalapalya, Vijaya Nagar, Karnataka. Her father and mother were garment workers earning around Rs 17,000 a month (10,000+7,000). She has a younger sister who also completed Class X. Life was going more or less smooth until this June 24th when her father (52) lost his life after a massive heart attack. With mother unable to go to work for next three months and Sandhya’s college asking for fees of over Rs 30,000 and the younger child unable to even think of taking admission for further studies, this migrant family from TN was staring at a blank future. Until they approached BRIDGE. After making enquiries, we have agreed to pay the fees of Sandhya. An enthusiastic and grateful Sandhya told me that she would look for a job as soon as she completes her BCom and return the money. I have told her not to worry about repayment and that it was enough that she takes care of another underprivileged student when she would be able to stand on her feet.

Introducing to you Vimala, the younger daughter of a family of four, who has scored 84% in her Plus 2 CBSE. Her father was a waiter at a tea shop and mother an occasional worker under MGNREGA when she did not work as a maid in some households. Her elder sister is a salesgirl at the village shop. Vimala, being a bright student, wanted to become a computer engineer and the family had pinned its hopes on her. But those hopes were dashed on April 6 this year when her father (50), who was diagnosed with lung cancer only a month before, left them in a void. The family was introduced to BRIDGE after her results had come. We have told the family that the death of her father need not end their dreams and that BRIDGE would fill the vacuum left by him until they can stand on their own. Vimala has now taken admission for BCA and BRIDGE has part-paid the fees. That’s another set of happy faces we have created.

Sindhu is an energetic girl from Kerala who has a never-say-die attitude, except that she has no money to back her spirit. Her family is neck-deep in debt following her father’s miscalculations. She had completed her Plus 2 with flying colours even as she worked in a chemist’s shop to add to the family income. She, along with her little brother, has now started a small venture of delivering gifts to families on behalf of their NRI relatives from shops with whom she has a tie-up. While this is happening, she does not want to stop her studies. She wants to pursue DPharm and was in need of funds. That’s when she approached BRIDGE to help her pay the fees of Rs 40,000 which she wants to return in instalments. We have obliged her and I am happy to see this girl of grit chasing her dreams with renewed vigour.

Arunima is another girl from Bangalore BRIDGE has reasons to feel proud of. Her mother was working at a small NGO earning a meagre salary and was struggling to fund her two girl children in school and college. Since the lockdown in March, the NGO where she was working could not afford to keep her on its rolls. With no job to go back to, she was struggling to pay the fees of her daughters, the eldest of whom was pursuing her MSW course in a city college. Determined not to end their studies, the family knocked on several doors including BRIDGE’s. We promised to part-fund the studies of the MSW student and paid for the same. Arunima and family are grateful to BRIDGE for our timely intervention. 

Friends, there are a few more families I want to introduce to you, but I shall keep them for another mail as this one has already run into several lines. But I want to give you a quick update on our existing families:
Suresha, our kidney patient from Gerukatte (Dakshina Kannada) is doing well although covid restrictions have made regular dialysis a major challenge. The family updates us with its progress and our monthly subsistence support is a major relief for them.

Selvi, a widow with three children, had a fall after a car knocked her down a month ago and is recovering fast. With BRIDGE to their rescue, she is a less worried person today. 

Sowmya, the girl left in the lurch and under our care following the honour killing of her husband, has had to be hospitalised last month following some health issues. She has recovered and is pursuing her studies now.

Mother of Ijaz Ahmed, a BE student under our care, and two daughters, had a fall two weeks ago and underwent a minor surgery at Sanjay Gandhi Hospital in Bangalore and is recovering well.

Satish, the young man from Kerala who is being treated for throat cancer, is progressing well. But COVID restrictions are placing impediments on his hospital visits. We are hoping for the best.

Shanti, a widow in SG Palaya, Bangalore, with two kids, lost her tailoring job due to limited work during this covid season and was struggling to stitch together her life. We have provided her some interim monetary relief and we are trying to find a job for her.

Friends, I hope you remember the Bangalore-based Mahalakshmi sisters, one of whom is a cancer survivor and walks on artificial leg. We pay for the sisters’ college studies. Ever since they lost their father, the children and mother have been doing part-time jobs at a school and taking tuitions to make both ends meet. She lost her part-time job at the school as there are no regular classes these days. Having completed her BCom now, she is looking for a job to alleviate the sufferings of her family. Anyone who knows of an opening can alert me so that we could help this lady who has already gone through a lifetime of pain.

Let me also tell you that today the 29th of July marks the 5th anniversary of our memorable car accident, a year after which we registered the BRIDGE Trust on 1 August 2016. On our Foundation Day, I plan to meet our core team and some of our volunteers over Zoom. I will write to you with updates soon after. Please join me in thanking God for our accident which paved the way for BRIDGE. With the love and support of you my very dear friends, we have been able to touch the lives of over 100 families in this short span. 

Thank you dears for believing in me and joining me in this mission. God bless you and all our BRIDGE families.
Shibu Joseph