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.

We are building BRIDGEs guys!

Dear friends, I am extremely happy to write and update you on the progress BRIDGE has made during this past few weeks. Thanks to your help and enthusiasm, I have received several enquiries about our project and a few fresh financial commitments. As of now, we have raised a little over Rs 60,000 and a commitment of another Rs 30,000 which is yet to be received. I am sure in the days to come, our kitty will swell with more of your contributions and those from outside. I would request you to gently remind your friends to go ahead and credit the committed contributions. 

I would also like to keep you posted about the beneficiaries of your generosity.

Apart from the current families that we are helping, we have begun to assist the following families: 

1. I was introduced to this tragic story of a family in Kottayam, Kerala. This family has three children. The eldest is a girl of 22 years, the next is a boy (Prasad) who is in the third year of a polytechnic course in Thiruvananthapuram. The third is a girl who is studying in Grade 7. The children lost their mother to cancer some 6 years ago. The eldest girl had stopped studying during 1st PUC to take care of the domestic chores and her sickly mother. The father had a small business with which he was making ends meet. The huge medical bills of his wife had taken a toll on the family and he had to sell most of their property after his wife’s death. While they were eking out a living, the father, the sole breadwinner was diagnosed with heart ailments and had to undergo surgery which drained the resources of the family. The father did not survive for long. He passed away a few months ago leaving the children orphan. The son now studies during the day and works at a phone recharge shop near his hostel in the evenings and earns about Rs 2500 a month which can hardly take care of his needs. He is doing it at the cost of his studies. Some good neighbours supply rice and provisions to the children. They have an aunt of 60 plus years (their father’s brother’s wife) who is a widow herself and who had adopted an orphan because she did not have children. I requested this lady, who also has very little financial means, to move in with these children along with her now 16-year-old adopted son. BRIDGE has committed to take care of the education of the son who is now in the third year of polytechnic course (it’s a 4-year course) and the girl who is in Grade 7. We are also making arrangements with a provision store nearby to supply provisions worth about Rs 3,000 a month to the family. The family is eternally grateful to you dear BRIDGE Builders. 

2. There is this lady (Shyamala by name who is in her early 50s) in Kannur district of North Kerala who suffers from asthma. Her husband had deserted her some years ago and she was fending for herself by working occasionally as maid. She is unable to work regularly as she suffers from severe bouts of asthma attack. The Kerala government has built her a small house. She runs up huge medical bills and has had a debt of about Rs 6,000 when she was introduced to me by one of my friends who knows this case well. I have given her a one-time grant of Rs 10,000 from our pool. The lady shed tears of joy on receiving such a ‘huge’ amount. 

Two new cases we are considering:  

3. There are these two ladies who lost their husbands to accidents some time ago. They both have two school-going children each. They were introduced to me by a nun (Sr Tessy Kodiyil) who runs an organisation called Aswas in Kalamassery, Kerala. Aswas is an organisation that works among families that have lost members in accidents. This nun visits such families and counsels and offers them emotional support. She organises monthly meetings of such families in Angamaly. During such meetings, the surviving of families gather around and share their stories. They cry, and soon others too join and cry together. It’s sort of a catharsis. After spending 2-3 days together, they go back with lot of strength. I have participated in a few of their meetings and was totally moved. Now, the two ladies mentioned above are struggling to make a living. One of these ladies is apparently a very good cook. I met her the last time I was in Kerala. I suggested to her and to Sr Tessy that she start a small business of making pickles and other Kerala special goodies and supply to local bakeries and neighbourhood families, etc. There is demand especially from non-resident Keralites who carry such goodies with them when they go back after their vacation. I told them BRIDGE can finance the venture and start with an interest-free loan of Rs 50,000. This I thought was in keeping with the BRIDGE philosophy of financially empowering families. The Sister suggested that one more lady join her as one may not be able to cook as well as go about supplying these products. I have given my consent. The Sister will supervise their efforts. I am yet to give the money as we are finalising the details. 

4. Last week I was introduced to this vocally impaired lady with a 6-year-old girl child in Bengaluru. Her husband deserted her and she is currently surviving on what is offered to her by some good Samaritans. The lady is looking to keep her daughter in some orphanage and is planning to join some destitute centre in Bengaluru as she can’t manage on her own. I discussed this case with Karthik who is a great motivator at BRIDGE. He suggested that we should ensure the mother and the daughter are not separated and that we should think of ways to keep them together. We are still studying this case. 

There are so many such cases (I would rather call them opportunities) where our help and generosity are called for. And once we get our feet wet, we will come across so many such cases which we never discover stuck as we are in our comfort zones. Friends, let’s not be content with these little help that we have extended. We need more funds and regularly too. Let’s shamelessly ask for it as we are not seeking anything for us. It’s God’s work we are doing.  

I take this opportunity to thank you all for the generosity that you have shown. You have helped touch some lives in such a short period. And I want you to feel proud of the difference that you are making.  

The festival season is upon us. Even as we celebrate, let’s spare a thought for those for whom celebration means just having a full meal a day. The family of Prasad (case no. 1 above) shed tears of joy when he brought home his first princely salary of Rs 2500, a small change for us on a weekend dinner out. Now, Prasad’s family will not have to worry about getting food on their table everyday, thanks to you guys. May their parents bless each one of you from heaven! 

Past Letters