I am so sorry it has taken me a while to connect with all of you and update you about our activities. Work on our proposed Coffee Table Book has been taking much of my time besides our regular activities. Here is an update of BRIDGE work during the past couple of months:
First, the Coffee Table Book. The book, as you know, is a fund-raiser project. The content would include profiles of families that have fought the odds after losing their breadwinners and succeeded. The book, proposed to be titled, ‘Giving Up was not An Option’, will also have details of BRIDGE activities. We have completed 50% of the editorial work and simultaneously we are working on sponsors and advertisements to be included in the book. I am happy to share the good news that we have bagged advertisements commitments from Aditya Birla Group, Reliance Industries, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Raymond, MEIL (H’bad-based company) and a few more could be on the way. I would urge you all to tap your sources and share the noble work of BRIDGE to secure some more advertisements or sponsorship.
We also were able to bring smiles on the faces of four families during these past two months:
BRIDGE came across a family whose main breadwinner (father) was incapacitated following an accident and the lady in the house has to work at a beedi-making unit to bring home the bacon. The parents have two academically brilliant children, the elder (Seyoos) doing his BTech (Mechanical engineering) in a Kanyakumari college and the younger (Shreyas) in Plus One. The elder took up BTech two and a half years ago on the promise of financial help from a charitable organisation. This was also conveyed to the Engineering Institute by this organisation which admitted him on payment of just Rs 10,000 and on assurance that the organisation would pay the semester fees in instalments. But the organisation backed out and the institute asked the boy to either pay the arrears of around Rs 3 lakh for the past four semesters if he intended to continue, or leave. Since the family did not have the means they chose the latter course and the boy joined his mother at the beedi-making unit. This was when the case was introduced to BRIDGE. We did not want a talented boy to lose out on education. We did some enquiries and tried to tap our outside resources since BRIDGE did not have that kind of money in our pool. We managed to organise Rs 1 lakh and suggested a few methods to seek funds to the boy who then found a benefactor in his former school teacher who pulled out some of his retirement funds and offered him Rs 1.50 lakh. (May his tribe increase!) We also spoke with the Engineering Institute to readmit the boy. The boy is back in the college, thanks to our timely intervention. Seyoos has assured us that he would return the money when he gets a job.
A similar story was played out in Bengaluru where a boy (Praveen) had to organise fees for his BE (electronics) in a city college. His mother is a house maid and father is bedridden after a bad fall. Praveen had to pay the semester fees of Rs 91,000. His institute reduced the amount to Rs 71,000. His mother managed to organise Rs 50,000. A BRIDGE volunteer brought this case and after a discussion BRIDGE paid Rs 21,000 to the institute.
We also came across a family in Dasarahalli, outer Bengaluru, that lost its breadwinner leaving the burden of running the family and education of two children (a son studying for Plus 2 in Kempe Gowda College and a daughter who is a Class VI student of Schoenstatt St Mary’s School, Nagasandra) in the hands of his wife. She tried her hands at tailoring to make both ends meet but was unable to earn enough to pay the bills. She has now secured a small job in a kindergarten. BRIDGE has agreed to pay her house rent of Rs 2,500 every month.
I am also happy to share with you the case of this gritty lady (Selvi) from Thaverekere, Bengaluru, who lost her husband more than 10 years ago and through sheer grit and determination was able to bring up three of her children — a girl of 19 years of age who has secured a govt quota seat for BSc nursing, a son who is mentally challenged and another son who has just completed his 10th. The lady works as a house maid in a few houses and has been saving as much as possible to ensure that her children get proper education. With not much to spare after meeting their household expenses and education of kids, the family has had to live in a rented one-room hut in a cemetery compound for a rent of Rs 1,000 a month. (BRIDGE team visited her and was shocked by the state of affairs.) Making the situation worse, recently, the owner of this place asked the family to vacate and they were literally on the streets. Thanks to some good Samaritans, they found a slightly better place in a populated locality. But the family has a struggle in its hands to pay the rent as Selvi is advancing in age and falls ill too often and unable to work as she used to. The rent for the new house is Rs 3,500. BRIDGE has decided to offer the family Rs 2,500 every month to part-fund the house rent.
I take this opportunity to thank you all once again for your generosity, goodwill, and support that help BRIDGE make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate. I would also request you to tap your sources at companies to help us raise funds and probably take up their CSR work. This can go a long way in reaching out to the needy more effectively.