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 have Reasons to Feel Proud

My dear friends,

As promised in my previous mail, I am happy to update you about BRIDGE’s progress and the new families we have adopted during the past few months. Even though I have been confined to home most of the past few months due to health issues, BRIDGE has been making big strides roping in new families and interacting with our existing family members.  

(WARNING: This is going to be a long mail)

First some positive news:

Sumathi, a cancer patient with three small dependent kids about whom I had written in my mail in April, is making steady progress. There was hardly 10% chance of her survival when we met her for the first time in March as she was in Stage 4. Our volunteers have been with her through these months, taking care of her children and attending to her needs, running errands for the family at Kidwai Cancer hospital in Bengaluru and above all reassuring her and the family. She has been having food only through a pipe. I am happy to say that Sumathi is much much better today, the pipes have been removed and she is able to eat properly and is almost back on her feet without having to undergo surgery. I take this opportunity to thank all our team members for your support and prayers, especially Jose Paul and his wife Dr Cyja who have been a pillar of support. 

I had also introduced to you the family of Wilson, the breadwinner of the family, who was diagnosed with cancer. BRIDGE has been making part-payment of his chemo and radiation expenses. We have also paid the fees of his two college-going children as he is unable to work. Wilson is a much healthier person today and the doctors have assured him that he can get back to his work at a catering unit in the near future. 

I am also happy to share the news that BRIDGE has now an informal tie-up with Bengaluru-based Nudge Foundation which trains jobless youth in a skill of their liking and places them in suitable companies after a 3-month intense residential training. BRIDGE will refer jobless youth from our families to Nudge Foundation and help them secure jobs. Already one of our students who had dropped out of school is being training by Nudge. If you know such individuals, kindly let me know.

I have a bad news too. Rajita (please refer my mail in April), who had a hole in her heart and who has been in comma for months, has left us. She is survived by her two school-going children and her mother who is now looking after the children. BRIDGE continues to support them in a small way.

Friends, we have extended our help to around 20 new families during these past five months in the process helping nearly 30 students continue their studies. I shall briefly introduce them to you.

1. Chilsy from Kannur, Kerala, is a 19-year-old girl who has had a very very difficult childhood. She lost her mother when she was very small. She has a brother who is one year elder to her. Their daily wage-earner father married again but within a couple of years of that marriage, he killed his wife in a fit of rage. Since the father was jailed, the children had no resources to survive. Chilsy’s brother stopped studies after his Plus II which he had passed with 75% and started taking up a job as a painter to support his sister and their grandmother. Chilsy continued her studies and after her Plus II, brother could not afford her college fees. This was the situation when she was introduced to BRIDGE. We have made a part-payment of her college fees. She has taken up BBA and is doing quite well now. Last month, while their father came out of jail on parole, he suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away. BRIDGE is in touch with Chilsy and is supporting her emotionally and financially too.

2. Kiran from Whitefield, Bengaluru, lost his father a few years ago. His mother has been working as a maid in a few houses near their rented house. Kiran cleared SSLC scoring 61% and his mother could not afford his fees for PUC. BRIDGE came to know of their case through someone who had read about BRIDGE in newspapers. After enquiries, we have decided to pay his college fees and we are regularly in touch with the family. Kiran is a wonderful, well-mannered and devout boy on whom I have great hopes.

3. Smitha Murali Mahale is a 39-year-old lady from Kumta, Karnataka, suffering from “Carcinoma tongue post CT” (a type of cancer). She had lost her husband due to cardiac arrest a few years ago. She has two children who are in Classes 8 and 6. She doesn’t have enough funds for further treatment. BRIDGE has extended some help for her medical care. One of our volunteers is monitoring her situation.

4. Preetha’s is a moving case. She has two school-going children (classes 6 and 3) and while she was pregnant with her third child, her husband committed suicide due to heavy debt that he had incurred. Shattered as she was, she had no means for survival. She was introduced to BRIDGE and we are meeting the expense of the family to some extent by depositing a small amount in the family account. We have also paid the school fees of the children after obtaining some discount from the school authorities. I am happy to share the good news that Preetha delivered a beautiful baby girl in July last and BRIDGE is in constant touch with the family.

5. Ruby is another young lady who lost her husband last February following a cardiac arrest at the age of 36. He was a successful plumber and a very helpful person for everyone around. She has two children (Class 1 and LKG). She has a housing loan burden of Rs 5.60 lakh. She is trying for a job as she is a BCom graduate. BRIDGE is supporting the family providing it a small subsistence amount every month until she can manage on her own. 

6. 31-year-old Meena from JP Nagar, Bengaluru, a helper at a temple, was abandoned by her drunk husband along with her three children. As she was struggling to make ends meet with her measly income of Rs 4,000, one of our volunteers advised her to entrust one of her children in a care home. We have offered to pay the expenses of one of her children Keerthi which comes to around Rs 5,000 a month. 5-year-old Keerthi today is a happy child enjoying the comforts of Sanjoe Bhavan.

7. Jaiyashree is another 5-year-old child we have adopted and entrusted to the care of Sanjoe Bhavan in JP Nagar, Bengaluru. She lost her father in 2015 following a jaundice attack. Her mother Lakshmi is a housemaid and does not have a home of her own. She has an older brother of 6 years who is staying with the mother. A playful child Jaiyashree is the life of Sanjoe Bhavan. BRIDGE is sponsoring Jaiyashree and monitoring her progress.

8. Sindhu is a daily wage earner staying near Aluva, Kerala. Her husband is unable to work as he is handicapped. They have two girl children. The eldest Devika, a bright Plus II student, is a kidney patient. She has been undergoing treatment for the past three years. Her teachers and some kind neighbours have been helping the family meet the regular medical expenses. The family was introduced to us through one of our Associates. BRIDGE has started to send a small amount every month to the family in order to meet the medical expenses.

9. Sneha is the younger of the two girl children of her parents. They lost their father a few years ago and their mother struggled to bring up the family. The elder daughter was married off two years ago after they sold their property. Soon thereafter the mother fell ill and was diagnosed with cancer. She wanted to see her second daughter also in marriage. As her illness advanced and doctors gave up on her, some of our volunteers worked really hard to find a suitable match for Sneha. Although a suitable match was found, Sneha’s mother could not be present for the wedding as she breathed her last just a week before the wedding. We have pooled in money and arranged the marriage and Sneha is lucky to have a wonderful husband today.

10. Jibin is a student from Ernakulam who lost his house completely during the Kerala floods last August. He has a bed-ridden father and a mother who does odd jobs in nearby houses. He drives autorickshaw during evenings after his classes in a college nearby to make both ends meet. BRIDGE volunteers have found him a house on rent for Rs 4,000 a month which is being paid by BRIDGE.

11. Two other families whose houses were damaged during the Kerala floods have been given financial help by BRIDGE. 

12. A lady from Trissur, Kerala, who had lost her husband a few years ago was in a pathetic situation when she was introduced to BRIDGE. She was suffering on account of cancer in her stomach. Her relatives, after looking after her for a few months, left her as they could not afford the expense. When she was introduced to BRIDGE she did not have any money left. We took up her case and we financed her chemo and radiation expenses for a few months. But I am sorry to report that she passed away last month.

13. We have another student patient undergoing treatment for leukemia at Kidwai Cancer Hospital in Bengaluru. He is a Plus I student and the family is a BPL card holder thanks to which a major portion of his expenses is being taken care of by the government. Our team is providing emotional support and taking care of the sundry expenses of the patient. 

14. Here are two wonderful sisters Mahalakshmi and Leena both studying for BCom in ASC Degree College, Rajaji Nagar. What is remarkable here is the fact that Mahalakshmi, the eldest, had been diagnosed with cancer on her leg a couple of years ago when she was doing her Plus II. Not one to give up, she kept studying at home. One of her legs had to be amputated. One of the BRIDGE volunteers and friends carried her in their arms to the exam hall on all days of the exams. She cleared the Plus II exam with Distinction scoring 513 out of 600. Just a month before her exams, she lost her father Eshwarappa, the sole breadwinner on 16 February 2018 due to cardiac arrest. The family was shattered but their mother started to work as a maid in a few houses to make a living. Mahalakshmi has survived the cancer and walks around on artificial leg. BRIDGE is now paying the college fees of both the sisters. Our volunteer and a committed social worker Cedric Morris, who himself is a cancer survivor, is closely in touch with the family and motivates them constantly. 

15. Please welcome this family of Tulsi from Santacruz, Mumbai, our first from Maharashtra. She is a widow who struggles to eke out a living after her husband, a watchman, passed away three years ago following pneumonia. She has two school-going children Kalyani and Khushi Vikram Patel who are in Class IV and Sr Kg, respectively. The family was introduced to us by Deepa Menon, a socially-coscientious person who wants to work for BRIDGE. We have paid the school fees of these two bright children. Deepa is monitoring this family’s welfare.

16. Allow me to introduce to you Nikhila who is from the so-called backward adivasi community from Wayanadu. The best part of her family is that despite their meagre means (father bed-ridden, mother a heart patient), Nikhila and her younger brother Nithin are good at studies. Nikhila is a third year MBBS student and her brother is completing his polytechnic course. Once he is able to secure a job, things should be easy for the family, Nikhila told me. She has taken an education loan for her MBBS studies and BRIDGE will provide for the family until Nikhila’s brother gets a job, hopefully after his exams in March.

17. Deva Nesam is a resident of Viveknagar slums in Bengaluru. A heart patient, Deva Nesam has been struggling for the past several years to bring up her three daughters after her husband deserted her more than 12 years ago. But what is remarkable is the fact that despite her illness and her work as a maid in three houses, she never let her children stop their studies as she says, “only education can save us”. Her daughters are studying for BCom, Plus II and Class 10. We visited the family in their tiny one-room hut that’s kitchen, bedroom, living room all in one. To cut a long story short, BRIDGE has paid the fees of the children (nearly 50% of which the mother had paid after taking a loan) and agreed to buy provisions and medicines for the family every month. We are also thinking of buying a health insurance for the family. 

18. Sagayarani B from Madapattu, Tamil Nadu, (our first case from the state) is a widow who lost her husband, a truck driver, two months ago. She has three children, two daughters and one son. The eldest completed her Bcom and is looking for a job. The second is doing her Plus II and the third, her son, is studying in Class 10. Two of these children are excellent in studies and I have their mark sheets to confirm. Dr Kiran, a cardiac surgeon from St John’s Medical College, Bengaluru, introduced the family to BRIDGE. We have agreed to pay the school/college fees and provide a monthly subsistence support.

19. Besides these families, BRIDGE has provided financial support to a carpenter in Koramangala, Bengaluru, who suffered a cardiac arrest and needed quick surgery…

20. We have part-funded the hospital expenses of the wife of Kartha, a construction worker in Magadi, Ramanagara Dt…

21. We part-funded the hospital expense of a private bus driver from Hongasandra, Bengaluru, who met with an accident and became bedridden… 22. We also part-financed the hospital expenses of the daughter of a farmer from Hosur after she was hit by a car. The bill had come to over Rs 7 lakh in Sparsh Hospital, Electronic City.

Friends, all these families that we have helped are all thankful to the BRIDGE team for our timely intervention. Some of them say that we are the visible gods to them, but of course I make it a point to correct them and nudge them to thank the real God who is looking after all of us. Theirs is a predicament that could well have been ours had we not been just lucky in many ways. 

You know, all these would not have been possible without your constant support, financial and emotional. I would urge you to continue the same and if you could make a few recommendations to possible genuine donors, it will help us going forward. If we have to sustain this pace and continue to take care of our existing families, we need regular donations. Rs 10 lakh from Infosys, Rs 3 lakh from Megha Infrastructure of Hyderabad, Rs 3 lakh from Aditya Birla Corp and others came handy this year. With the 80G certificate that we have obtained, I hope things should be easier going forward. I need your prayerful support as well.