My dear friends,
Hope all of you are doing well. Let me start with some happy news. Those of you who are in Mumbai or have read about it in newspapers/social media already know this. Three widows of manual scavengers who died in December 2019 while cleaning the septic tank of a housing society in a Mumbai suburb got justice (well, sort of) when the Bombay high court last week ordered a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to them. This was the first time in Maharashtra when a court case of this sort for scavengers found completion and justice delivered at such a quick time, thanks to the relentless fight of the activist advocates Abba Singh and her daughter Isha Singh who on their own took up the case of these hapless widows. Why am I sharing this news with you? These widows have been under the care of BRIDGE for the past 20 months having been recommended by our Mumbai Associate Prakash Pillai. With their breadwinners gone and the housing society not offering any support as the issue was subjudice, the widows and their children struggled to live each day until BRIDGE came to their aid. They used to tell me that if it were not for us, they would not have been able to stay alive and that BRIDGE was their ‘bhagwan’. Last week, bhagwan came to their homes in the form of quick justice through those advocates, who did not take a penny as fees, and an understanding judge. Let’s feel happy that BRIDGE has been able to stand with these families through their dark days.
I wanted to give you an overview of our journey since the BRIDGE initiative was started five years ago. But I thought I will keep that for another mail as I want to make this mail short and also want to introduce a few more families that BRIDGE was associated with in the recent past.
Bangalore-based Ganesh, an electrical/AC mechanic, was the sole breadwinner of his family consisting of his wife and two little children. Last month, while at work he was electrocuted and was in the ICU of St John’s Hospital in Bangalore. He was in a coma and doctors had given up hopes on his recovery. BRIDGE well-wisher Santosh was attending to him running from pillar to post to organise best treatment as an entire family was dependent on him. After more than a week in the hospital and running up bills of several lakhs of rupees, he was moved to Victoria Hospital with the help of our ever-resourceful Baloo sir. Santosh and our Associate Shaji Thomas cleared the entire bill of Rs 7.5 lakh with some help from BRIDGE. Once he was shifted to the govt-run Victoria Hospital, his condition improved dramatically and in about a few days he was discharged and walked back home. I must say that Ganesh owes his life to the timely intervention of Baloo sir through his govt contacts. A big thank you to you dear Baloo sir.
Meet the Plus 2 student Mallikarjun from north Karnataka, who lost his father after a prolonged cancer treatment in Kidwai Hospital, Bangalore, followed by Covid. For almost two years he has been the support of the family taking care of his father, earning some money while working as a helper at city Metro construction site. He hadn’t completed his Plus 2 course due to these pressures. On the advice of one of our well-wishers Cedris Morris, we have part-paid his fees at his college in Dharmasthala. We are happy that he was keen on completing his studies and helping his family that includes his mother and three sisters.
I am afraid this mail is getting longer and I can’t brief you about our other families which I shall do in another mail. But I need to update you on a few developments.
If you remember, we have been taking care and financing the higher education of the wife of one of the victims of honour killing. I am happy to inform you that she has completed her course and landed a good job. She thanks the entire BRIDGE team for standing by her in her hour of need and supporting her and helping her stand on her own feet now. She wants to contribute to BRIDGE once she starts getting her salary.
I must tell you about Michelle Mendonca, a BRIDGE benefactor about whom I had written in my mail in May. Having been impressed by the impact BRIDGE is making on the ground and our sincerity and dedication, she wrote to me last month that she would like to contribute more and that she has some spare funds after her expenses last month and she sent me Rs 33,500. I was really touched by her gesture of including the less fortunate in her family budget. Such gestures indeed are the fuel of our growth.
I must also tell you of Melvin Joseph, founder of the reputed financial planning service firm Finvin Financial Planners. A chance call to him led to the opening of a new world of opportunities for BRIDGE. Himself a dedicated philanthropist, he exhorts all his clients to sponsor the education of at least one student across the country. The sponsored students under him now number around 400. After making a contribution to BRIDGE he has assured me that he would recommend BRIDGE students to his clients for sponsorship.
Friends, I have many more things to share about the beautiful journey that we all have started together. Out of respect for your time, I am winding up for now. As always, let me extend my sincere thanks to all of you for your concern, support and encouragement. God bless all!
Thank you and please take care