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.

When Lightning Strikes Twice…

My dear friends,

The myth that says that lightning never strikes in one place twice is just that: a myth. The fact is, lightning can, and often does, strike the same place repeatedly. At least that has been my experience having listened to the stories of many of our BRIDGE beneficiaries who have faced a series of tragedies. I am not talking about lightning per se, but about tragedies that hit families repeatedly. The latest instance of this is what happened to a family in Idukki district whose breadwinner father had a fall from a tree which he had climbed to pluck fruits to sell in the market. The fatal fall just a month ago (February 1, 2022, to be precise) took the wind out of the sail of this hapless family. 

Fate had not done with its cruel joke on the family. There was a mistake in the death certificate (wrong date) of the father and this needed correction. So his wife and one of her three daughters were on their way to the panchayat office to make the necessary correction. This was just 18 days after his death. While on their way, a speeding bike hit the mother who fell on her neck and then back. She is now bedridden with her backbone having been severely damaged. The three girl children are yet to recover from the shock. The eldest is 23 years old who has completed her MCom and is looking for a job. The second daughter (21 years) is doing her BSc Nursing Course in Dr MV Shetty Hospital in Mangalore. The third (19 years) has just completed her Plus 2 with 95% marks.  

I have had several rounds of counselling sessions with the children, especially the youngest who finds it difficult to accept the reality. I have assured the family the support of BRIDGE, monetary as well as emotional. Enthused by our support, the youngest one told me that she would study and work and then contribute to BRIDGE as her return gift. I told her to focus on her studies for now.

Yet another victim of a fall was Vijay, a headloader, who fell from the truck and has been paralysed since the past 11 months. The breadwinner of the family, Vijay has a wife and two college-going children. Since the family could not make both ends meet, the eldest son stopped his studies after his Plus 2 and has taken up a small job. But what he earns is not enough to cover the medical expenses of his father and to keep home fires burning. The younger girl is in Class 12. Vijay’s wife used to go for MGNREGA work but is unable to go now as Vijay needs constant care. We visited the family and assured them of our support to lessen the burden.

Rajeev is a carpenter who has a wife and a 6-year-old son. An honest-to-goodness guy, Rajeev is well-respected in his village and someone who comes to the rescue of the needy even though that would mean giving up on his day’s wage. But his family has been going through tough times ever since the boy was born. The child had to undergo 13 surgeries in a span of 6 years connected with his private areas. Rajeev had used up all his savings for the child’s care. He had bought a little patch of 3 cents land to build his little dream house. But as there was no end to the medical expenses, he had to sell this property. Just as it is said when God shuts one door he opens another, one of our BRIDGE volunteers donated 4 cents of prime property on which the villagers are constructing a beautiful house for his family. Surprising how Providence works!!!

Just to quickly mention  some of the other initiatives that BRIDGE is involved in:* BRIDGE has part-funded the chemo and radiation expenses of a widow in Kannur* A cancer survivor who was the breadwinner of the family and whom BRIDGE had helped three years ago had a relapse four months ago. He has sought our help and we have part-funded his chemo-radiation expenses.* We have part-funded the construction of a toilet for a family of a widow with two girl children.* We have part-funded the bypass surgery of a 56-year-old breadwinner of a family in Tamil Nadu. He was a daily wager and one of our BRIDGE volunteers brought this case to us.

(Note: As a policy, BRIDGE only part-funds the needs of our beneficiaries as we want them to also join the efforts.)

Friends, I wish to place on record the services of our volunteers some of whom have been involved in looking after the emotional needs of the BRIDGE families. Some of them really spend hours listening to the domestic and other problems faced by these families and offering them solutions. As I have always said, BRIDGE is not an NGO to disperse some funds. More than taking care of the financial needs of our families, BRIDGE is committed to providing them emotional support by lending them our ears, guiding children in choosing the right careers, sometimes being bystanders when some of the BRIDGE families are hospitalised and thus filling the vacuum of their missing parent/s. I bow my head to you, our committed brigade and invoke God’s blessings on you.

As you know BRIDGE does not really have regular corporate funders that could provide us a lot of financial cushion and take away our worries of future fund flow. But I want to tell you that this is compensated to a great extent by the caring gestures of three wonderful companies ACT, Megha Engineering and Mumbai-based WonderBiz Technologies. Impressed by the good that we do, the top leadership at WonderBiz has transferred another Rs 5 lakh to the BRIDGE account last week. This caring company has come on board through our committed Associate Prakash Pillai. This money should see us through the next 2-3 months. Michelle Mendonca from Mumbai is another of our diehard supporters who continues to transfer her savings to us. A second time this new year she has transferred Rs 37,750. Yet another enthusiastic supporter is Ms Mala Bhojwani, my meditation guide, who sent us Rs 30,000 more. Besides of course our regular donors Shaji Thomas, Austin Scaria, James CC, Geetanjali, Prakash Pillai, Raju Pullan and others. 

I thank each of you for travelling with BRIDGE and touching the lives of many on the way. Without your support, BRIDGE would not have been able to make the kind of difference that we have made so far. God bless everyone!!!
Thank you