My dear friends,
I am so happy to inform you that our BRIDGE has just completed six years of a beautiful journey. When I look back to the past six years and the positive difference we have made not only in the lives of more than 170 families, but also in the lives of our own volunteers and supporters, I feel the journey was worth it.
I want to emphasise in this anniversary mail more on the second group because the positive changes we have impacted in the lives of our beneficiaries is obvious to all and they are all grateful to BRIDGE for what we are to them. But what BRIDGE has done to our own volunteer-support team is something that many of them have shared with me personally and which I am so happy about. First of all, the opportunity that BRIDGE has given our volunteers to touch the lives of many affected families, empathising with them and being able to be of help to them is indeed unique. They are so happy that they have been able to make a transition from seeing the less fortunate ones from afar to becoming part of the families of such unfortunate ones.
I can understand what they are saying. Before BRIDGE, I also used to view the poor as some people who needed help and I would remain contented giving them some financial help. But post-BRIDGE, I cannot view them that way anymore. Like our volunteers, I have become part of their lives, feeling their pain more intensely and in the process feeling stressed about it too. When you realise that you have become someone they can count on and the reason for their happiness, life becomes a lot more worth living. This is the happy experience of our volunteers who having wet their feet have discovered a new world out there which hitherto remained elusive having been stuck in their comfort zones. Did someone say, ‘life begins at the end of your comfort zone’?
Even my other friends who have not been able to meet our beneficiaries for want of time but are happy to support BRIDGE financially have told me several times that being part of BRIDGE gave them immense happiness which they never found in the past even though they have been supporting other charities in the past. As I said in the beginning, the journey of BRIDGE is not just the journey of the people we have helped, but also its supporters and volunteers who have found it a fulfilling experience.
So on this sixth anniversary of our beautiful initiative, let me thank each of you for your sacrifice, support and encouragement. You know very well that our volunteers who interact with families and coordinate their needs do so without any financial gain because BRIDGE as a policy will not meet any expenses as we have vowed to pass on the entire money we raise to our beneficiaries. Let me slightly change what Rudyard Kipling said: God could not be everywhere, and therefore he built BRIDGE. Thank you dear volunteers.
There have been a number of other persons who have supported and still support BRIDGE without taking any remuneration. Like our Chartered Accountants BOCO LLP led by its charismatic brothers Omprakash Jain and Bharath Jain who have been painstakingly auditing and advising BRIDGE without taking a single penny for a fee. They have patiently answered all my stupid queries and organised our finances meticulously. Thank you gentlemen for what you are to us.
I have to thank in a special way Shri Ajit Kumar Varma, income tax commissioner, who have been closely observing the growth of BRIDGE and granted us 80G and 12A certificates four years ago (“If you guys do not get the 80G tax exemption, who else should?” is what he always told me). Even though he was not in charge of the office in Bangalore anymore, I was able to reach out to him last month when it was time for renewal, He went out of his way to ensure that we didn’t have any issue while renewing the exemption certification. Thanks a tonne dear sir.
Let me bow my head before you our financial supporters without whose regular and timely intervention BRIDGE would not have made the kind of difference it has made so far. There are among you not only who transfer funds to BRIDGE but also others, like true missionaries, spread the word about BRIDGE and bring in more supporters impressed as they are by our service. Our corporate supporters, although just three — ACT, MEIT and Wonderbiz Technologies — have been a great source of comfort for me as I can knock on their doors without any hesitation. To all of you my dear friends, let me offer our immense gratitude on behalf of the BRIDGE beneficiaries.
I also remember with a deep sense of gratitude, a number of persons and personalities who guided BRIDGE in its infancy, like veteran journalist TJS George, Infosys Foundation chairperson Sudha Murty, Aditya Birla group’s Rajashree Birla, ACT’s Bala Malladi, our web designer Krishne Gowda, Friends of Tibet head and my friend Sethu Das, great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Tushar Gandhi, my friend and guide KR Balasubramanyam, our Mumbai representative and donor Prakash Pillai, friends Rakesh, Karthik, Feroze, Bhanu, Geetanjali, Ani Francis, Neeta, Suchitra, Shaji, Austin and James CC and of course my family and other friends who constantly pray for BRIDGE.
Finally, please join me in thanking that unseen Hand that cared for us after that car accident that led to the founding of BRIDGE and later nurtured it over the years. Onward do we march under His care.
Thank you so much