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.

Happy Moments, Some Sad too

My dear friends,

It is with much happiness that I write this. The primary reason is the total dedication that I see in some of our BRIDGE supporters. Since we started this journey together, I have shared with you several stories of God’s intervention at many critical periods of our journey. While it’s tempting to take such Providential interventions as granted, it is important to know that each such event is an affirmation from God that we are on the right track. 

A little over a month ago, I was a little apprehensive about meeting our monthly financial obligations as the funds in our bank had reached near depletion. Of course, I have the standing assurance from the CEO of ACT, Bala Malladi sir, to get back to him whenever BRIDGE is in need of funds. But I thought I would exercise this option as a last resort. Nonetheless, I did exercise it and wrote to him. But the very day, as Providence would always intervene, I received a note from our new and passionately committed Michelle Mendonca from Mumbai who had donated nearly Rs 1 lakh earlier this year and subsequently too. The note said that she had just transferred Rs 61,370.00 into the BRIDGE account. I also received another note from Ms Mala Bhojwani, my teacher of guided meditation, saying that she had transferred Rs 30,000.00 excited as she was about the BRIDGE cause. Not done with her contribution, on receiving the receipt for her donation, Michelle transferred Rs 50,600.00 more. In the meantime, ACT also credited Rs 5 lakh making our position comfortable for the next few months. 

On behalf of the BRIDGE family, I salute the dedication and passion of our benefactors old and new without whose support BRIDGE would not be able to make the kind of difference we make in the lives of our beneficiaries. 

Let me now quickly brief you about the recent developments in our BRIDGE family.

I am happy to share the good news that the eldest daughter of one of the families BRIDGE has been supporting (this Kerala family had lost its sole breadwinner in an accident at the peak of Covid last year) is engaged to marry and the wedding is scheduled for late this December. What is remarkable is the fact that the bridegroom belongs to an upper middle-class family who really wanted a girl from a financially poor family. Although the groom’s family is going to meet all the wedding expenses, BRIDGE would be at the bride’s side with our good wishes and gifts.

If you recall, I had told you of a man who was paralysed below waist for the past 22 years following an accident. He and his mother of 84 were living in a dilapidated house. Thanks to some contributions from friends and Kerala state government, he is now the proud owner of a 2-bedroom house worth around Rs 7 lakh. BRIDGE also has joined the efforts by laying tiles on all the floors at a cost of Rs 50,000.00

Another good news from the BRIDGE family is the miraculous recovery of Anish, the breadwinner of his family, after a serious accident and near paralysis. (Ref my letter dated July 28, 2021) He is able to walk with the help of a walker and talk more or less clearly. A big salute to his wife who looked after him like a little child and brought him back to life even though his doctors had ruled out a recovery.

I am happy to report also that three Mumbai widows of manual scavengers who lost their lives at work two years ago received the final cheque for Rs 10 lakh each (awarded by court) two weeks ago. They called me to thank BRIDGE for the support we have given them during the past two years without which they said they had no way to survive. I am really happy, dear friends, we have been of help to them thus far. Since they can now manage on their own, we are stopping our financial support while continuing our help in terms of career guidance and academic counselling of their children.

I also feel quite proud to inform you that two Bangalore girls (Mahalakshmi and Leela, a cancer survivor and one who lost her leg (she is on artificial leg now) who also lost their breadwinner father some three years ago, completed their BCom with flying colours (83% and 79%). They just sent me a note thanking us profusely for the support during a difficult phase of their lives. They plan to do MBA and MCom going ahead.

Also, two of the beneficiaries of our Livelihood Support scheme have secured jobs as anganwadi teachers and are now able to manage on their own. 

There is a sad news I must share with you. Shanti about whom I had written in my mail dated July 28, 2021 and who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer within six months of her marriage some two years ago, lost her battle and succumbed to it on November 24. Our prayers and condolences to her dedicated and grief-stricken husband. 

We are also knocking on the doors of heaven for the recovery of a 21-year-old boy of a BRIDGE family suffering from late stage leukemia being treated at Kidwai Cancer Hospital, Bangalore. He was the only hope of his mother and sister.

Last month, BRIDGE came to the aid of Nazima, a Bangalore-based widow who was struggling to pay the fees of her son Saif in Reva college (Bangalore). We paid Rs 20,000 of the total Rs 34,000 fee. The case had been brought to our attention by a Bangalore-based social worker.

We have enrolled in our livelihood support the 48-year-old Anju (c/o Sabu Mannada) who is diagnosed with liver malfunctioning and heart issues. She has been suffering for the past over 20 years. Her only support was her father who was a daily wager but is now unable to work after a fall. We are happy that she would now be able to buy her monthly medicines without fail.

There is one pending case that we have been struggling to find success in. This is the case of a widow from Kerala about whom I had mentioned in my mail almost a year ago. Her husband died, reportedly by hanging at his contract work site in Amritsar, on December 23, 2019. There has been no end to her misfortune since then. An asthmatic patient herself, she struggled to make both ends meet with her sickly (asthmatic) daughter of 8 years. With loans to repay, no money to buy food and medicine, her only solace was BRIDGE. The issue at hand is this: She has not been able to get a death certificate for her husband from Amritsar municipality although she is in possession of FIR, post-mortem reports, etc. The company for which her husband worked was of no help either although they have been promising assistance. She is running from pillar to post to get the certificate with which she could get a waiver of some loan repayment. Our ever-resourceful Baloo sir and Associates Shaji and Suja have been at work on this along with me. If any of you have some contacts in Amritsar to register the death and obtain a death certificate which is due to a widow, please alert me. Like the widow in the Tamil movie Jai Bhim, this lady has been knocking on all doors but without success. Even though we are there to support her, the struggle is on.

Friends, let me wind up for now lest this mail would go on. 

Please take good care of yourself, especially now when we are all faced with the threat from the latest variant of the Corona virus. We cannot afford another wave. So please stay safe, stay happy.

Thank you