I assume all of you are safe and in best health.
I have been planning to write to you with updates of BRIDGE activities since my mail in May. But a series of schedules forced me to defer it until now.
I have a few positive as well as some challenging issues to share with you today. The positives first.
I am very happy to inform you that BRIDGE has been quite active during these Covid-hit months reaching out to our existing beneficiary families and new ones with our financial and psychological assistance as also volunteering help. With the help of our Associates and Partners, we have been able to sort out various issues facing our families for which we had to be on the phone almost on a daily basis as we could not visit them. They are all grateful to God that we are there in their lives to talk and share their joys and sorrows.
I am happy to inform you that some of our volunteers, in partnership with Heart Beats and Kind Heart — two Bangalore- and Kerala-based groups of Good Samaritans who are ever willing to walk the extra mile whenever BRIDGE has sought their help — have fulfilled the dream of bed-ridden Atul Sasidharan to have a roof of his own.
Atul, a man in his early 30s, is someone we all must learn from when sufferings come our way. Because his life is a journey of tragedies. He had lost his father when he was very young. After much strugle taking care of his family, he got married and was blessed with two children. About some four years after the marriage, tragedies appeared to have made his house its permanent home. He had just started working as a salesperson at a jewellery shop and was hopeful that he could complete the construction of his dream home that he had started to build with his savings. But tragedy struck him when a little over a year ago both his kidneys failed needing regular dialysis. By now he had lost his job. His father-in-law promised to donate his kidney. An excited family finalised the date of surgery. But as fate would have it, just two days prior to the surgery, his father-in-law met with an accident and died. They were back to square one and even struggled to pay the rent and find money for weekly dialysis. Fate had not done with its horrid dance. In about a month later, Atul was diagnosed with blood cancer. With the double whammy of kidney failure and cancer, the family had nothing to look forward to, forget about the dream house in which Atul wanted to live at least for a day and “go away seeing my wife and children in a safe place” to use Atul’s words.
When Heart Beats volunteers brought this case to me showing pictures of the half-built house and expressed their willingness to do the work themselves and help Atul fulfill his dream, I was thrilled. A team of volunteers were formed under the supervision of a contractor who charged very little for his service and with a contribution of just Rs 50,000 from BRIDGE and donations from some local persons, these wonderful volunteers completed the job in 40 days. It’s a small but beautiful house and when Atul called me from his new house, he was shedding tears of joy. He said that he did not fear death anymore as he knows his family is safe in the care of a number of good souls. A big salute to our volunteers who sweated it out, literally, amidst the corona fears, and completed their mission. This once again proves BRIDGE’s credo: ‘There’s no greater happiness in life than wiping a tear from someone’s face and putting a smile on that face’. Thank you our wonderful BRIDGE Brigade.
I also want to share the good news that two families that BRIDGE supports through our monthly subsistence support initiative, have been blessed by God in a very special way. Both of them are gifted a house each by two generous individuals. One Australia-based donor had built a house for him in his native Kerala and along with it he wanted to build a house for a deserving family. He chose one of our BRIDGE families. (I don’t know if you remember Preetha whose family has been in our care for the past two years ever since she lost her husband while she was pregnant with his third child). At a cost of Rs 15 lakh this donor built a beautiful 3 bedroom house for Preetha and family and handed over the keys on 8th July.
Another Gulf-returned Keralite wanted to do the same as a token of thanks to God for his prosperity in the Gulf and chose Lissy, a widow with two children. This family is also under our care. Her house is being built now under the supervision of this Good Samaritan. Both Preetha’s and Lissy’s families cannot thank God enough for this gift.
I also want to acknowledge with gratitude the help given to BRIDGE by our regular and dependable benefactors ACT and Megha Infrastructure of Hyderabad in June at a crucial time. We have been finding the going tough since the lockdown in March and I have had to dig into our individual reserves as life was tough for many of our families during these months. That’s when the affable CEO of ACT Bala Malladi sir sent me a message reminding me of his standing instruction not to hesitate to give a shout to him when I find the going tough. This time I could not afford to hesitate and within a couple of days, Rs 5 lakh was credited into the BRIDGE account by ACT. Thank you Bala sir and your ever caring team at ACT.
In about a week, I got a call from Mr SV Rao of Hyderabad-based Megha Infrastructure, one of our strong pillars of support, informing me that the company has sanctioned Rs 5 lakh for BRIDGE. I just could not believe my ears. What he told me still rings in my ears: “Shibu sir, when you help the helpless, isn’t it our duty to ensure that you get the support? Our company is proud of the fact that we are associated with a genuine organisation like yours…” Thank you Rao sir and Sukumar, my friend and colleague who was the bridge between Rao sir and BRIDGE.
I also want to share some good news on the academic front. This year 8 of our students had appeared for Plus 2 and 6 of them appeared for Class X exams. I am happy to inform you that all of them have passed with flying colours with percentages ranging from 67% to 92%. This is a proud moment for all of us and they will be going for further studies with our support.
Let me share with you a few challenges we are facing.
One of the members of the BRIDGE beneficiary families has tested covid positive. She is 21 years old and one of the eight children of a family living in a one room house in Begur (K’taka). We are worried about the condition of other children. I request you all to keep her and family in your prayers.
I also would like to inform you that many of our beneficiary families are going through some trying times ever since the lockdown. Things are becoming very difficult financially. Some of the family members had small jobs as salesgirls, tailors, maids, etc. Some have lost jobs or are struggling with minimum income. If the grim economic situation continues, I am a bit worried about the future. We have sent extra money to the most needy. I know it’s becoming difficult for our donors too to continue their contributions. We will need more regular donors as the number of our beneficiary families has crossed 100. This is a serious challenge in our hands. It is my fervent hope that we will come out of this situation at the earliest.
I have to also introduce and update you about the new additions to our growing BRIDGE family. But I am afraid, this mail has already turned out to be too long. I will write about them in another mail within a few days.
I would earnestly request all of you to take good care of yourselves and not to dismiss the corona situation lightly. Let’s be responsible and caring citizens and have the faith that this too shall pass.