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.

Goodness at Work, and How!

My dear friends,

Let me first thank you all for the overwhelming support and your kind words after my mail last week about the way BRIDGE has been intervening in the lives of people, especially during this pandemic season, and your continued financial support. As many of you pointed out, BRIDGE has become an ideal platform for you to reach out to the real needy. 

As I promised in my mail a few days ago, let me introduce to you some of the families that have joined the BRIDGE family in the past few months. 

Death Did Them Part

To start with, I wish to share the tragic story of a family (no more a family, just a lady now) in Kerala who lost her husband and her 19-year-old son following a bike-truck collision. The family was just about getting adjusted to a life after they lost their 17-year-old mentally challenged daughter a year before. This husband-wife duo was the toast of the town deeply in love as they were during their 22 years of marriage. Even though the family struggled as the husband, a carpenter, was the only breadwinner of the family, they led a very contented life in their little house which they had completed on a loan a year before. The day the tragedy struck, the son had taken his father to hospital to attend to a minor injury sustained at work. On their way back while taking a turn, they were run over by a truck and died on the spot. One can imagine the trauma that followed. The lady since then stopped talking and no amount of counselling could make her accept the situation. BRIDGE came to know of the situation some three months after the incident and we visited her and spent a few hours talking to her and sharing with her similar situations of our other BRIDGE cases. What followed was a torrent of tears. We assured her that she was not going to be alone now and that we would be with her the rest of her life. I thought she felt relieved and since then she is a changed lady and we keep talking to her almost every week and supporting her financially. Hopefully we can find her a job and help her lead a normal life soon. 

Challenges Ahead

Another death of a breadwinner had shattered a family in Coimbatore almost two years ago. He is survived by his wife and a son who is in Class 9. The family had used up all their savings and taken a loan to treat the 48-year-old head of the family as he battled with cancer for two years. Not to give up, the lady had completed a beautician’s course and had opened a small salon on a loan. That’s when Covid and the lockdown hit her business. She struggled to pay the fees of her son and also to pay back the loan. Some days the duo did not have enough to eat, she confided in me some months ago. We assured her that we would pay the fees of her son and on our advice, she has begun visiting houses to render salon services. We hope to support her by meeting the school expenses of her son until she can stand on her feet.

Love Triumphs

Here’s a case of what grit, tenacity and above all pure love can achieve when all odds are against you. Anish was the breadwinner of a family of four that included his wife and two little children. He was working as a chef in a restaurant in Kasargod. A lively man who made everyone around him — at work and home — feel good, met with a bike accident on his way to work and was practically turned into a log after his head and various parts of his body were damaged. Doctors had ruled out any sort of recovery and sent him home after keeping him in ICU for over two months. But his determined wife would not want to listen to the doc. She took care of him like a little baby for months and after about six months he started to move his limbs. Encouraged and with the doctor’s advice and physiotherapy, Anish started to walk with support. He even started to speak, slurred at first, but understandable. Everyone, including the doctor, has only admiration for the lady who told me when I called her a few months ago after hearing of their tough situation: “Giving up was not an option for me, sir. Our lives revolved around Anish and it was my duty to take care of him. I treated him as my third child and today I am happy he is sitting on a wheelchair and talking to us. I am sure he will be able to return to work if not soon, but later.” Hats off to the plucky lady. The family is on BRIDGE’s Livelihood rolls and the lady updates me of their progress every two weeks. She is so grateful to us for being with her during her hour of need.

Atta Boy! 

If the courage and love shown by the lady in the case cited above are admirable, here’s another one. This time it’s a man who proved that his heart was made of gold. Meet Dinesh who married Shanti a little over a year ago. Within six months of their marriage, Shanti was diagnosed with cancer in her ovaries. After an ovary was removed, two cysts started growing in the area. Due to their size, another surgery was ruled out. They were trying to shrink the size of these cysts but even after months, they were unsuccessful. Due to this she is unable to pass urine too. She needed constant care. Now comes what none would wish for even one’s enemies. Shanti’s family, which included her mother and brother, refused to take care of her saying that after the marriage it was the duty of the husband to take care of the wife. Her husband had left for the UAE soon after the marriage for a not so high-paying job. With her in this condition, and with her own people unwilling to take care of her, he was left with no option but to leave the job and come to her aid. For the past seven months now, he had been with his wife, cleaning her, attending to her, taking her to hospital etc like mothers usually do. With his income having dried up, Dinesh had to knock on all doors for treatment and even food. This was when someone recommended their case to me. When I spoke to Dinesh and admired his commitment, he just laughed it off saying, “Isn’t it my duty to take care of my wife, sir… Maybe God entrusted her to my care through the marriage when He knew her family would not.” BRIDGE is supporting them for Chemo as well as other expenses with our limited resources. The couple is in the age bracket of 28-30 years and I cannot but salute the man who has totally dedicated himself to taking care of his hapless wife at such a young age. 

Friends, if I have to write all the cases we have supported recently in such detail, I would be taking too much of your time. So I shall run through the remaining list very quickly.

* We have paid the school fees of a Banaswadi (Bangalore) student who lost his breadwinner father recently

* We part-financed the hospital expenses of a daily wage earner after he had a fall from his bike

* We have joined the efforts of some local Good Samaritans to part-fund the kidney transplantation surgery of Vivek, the breadwinner of a family of four

* We have taken on our Livelihood rolls a family whose breadwinner (Raju) is incapacitated following a bus accident

* We part-funded the chemo expenses of a youth from a very poor family. But sadly he lost the battle to cancer

* We part-funded the hospital expenses of Sanoj (35 years), the breadwinner of a family of four. He needs continued support as he has serious cervical spinal injuries

* We bought a family health insurance policy for a widow (Shanti aged 38) and her two children in Bangalore

* We have part-funded the liver treatment of a young breadwinner of a family

* Two poor families (of Ranjith and Anthu) have been given Rs 50,000 each to repair their leaking homes during monsoon

* We have enrolled the family of Sumathi whose breadwinner is diagnosed with cancer under our Livelihood Scheme.

* We have part-funded the college education of a boy from an economically poor background

Tragedies Galore

I have some bad news to share with you. We have been taking care of a lady and her daughter (educational help) whose husband and second daughter had passed away following an accident and cancer, respectively. The lady had been working in a garment factory as a daily wager in Peenya (Bangalore). Tragedies refused to go away from their lives. She lost her job during the lockdown this year. They were staying with their in-laws consisting of her father and mother in law, brother in law and his wife and child. Two months ago, the father in law lost his life due to Covid. The responsibility of running the entire household was on the brother in law. I am sorry to say, a week ago, he too lost the battle to Covid. The family has just three ladies and their children with no income to fall back on. It’s a very unfortunate situation. Of course, BRIDGE has enrolled the family in our Livelihood Scheme until they can find a job. Please keep them in your prayers.

Friends, I shall wind up for now. I want to remind you that 29 July (that is tomorrow) marks the sixth anniversary of our car accident that led to the founding of A BRIDGE Over Troubled Waters a year later. I hope to write to you with an overview of our journey so far on our fifth Foundation Day on 1 August. 

Thank you so much and please do take care 

Shibu Joseph

Past Letters