In order to grasp the life and work of Dr. Jack Preger, you should first imagine a medical clinic in a developed country, treating several hundred patients a day.
Visualise the essentials: a building, a medical team, nurses, an examination room, a treatment room, equipment, medicines, and medical records.
Now, transport these basics to the side of the road in India, but with no building to operate in. Instead, an open-air clinic, working on the pavement with traffic passing by, in a huge, chaotic city of over 4 million people.
Try now to see several hundred impoverished patients, standing in line, waiting for the free medical treatment being offered here by a British doctor.
Picture the work involved in setting this up every morning, operating it all day, 6 days a week in searing heat and monsoon rains, then dismantling and storing it away every evening.
Add to this, threats from local street mafias, constant hounding by local authorities, and being thrown in Alipore Jail as a reward for your wish to relieve human suffering...
The original Middleton Row pavement clinic (pictured above) treated several hundred patients a day. It stretched from here forwards round the corner where the pharmacy and welfare sections were located.
This picture was taken on the same day and shows Jack's
consultation 'centre' The medical records 'department' adjoined this, with
Meet Dr. Jack Preger MBE the "Pavement Doctor of Calcutta"
...Now imagine any medical doctor, anywhere, attempting to work under these conditions, even for 14 days.
Jack Preger, the little-known physician from Manchester, England, sat at this clinic on the pavement offering free medical treatment to the homeless and the hopeless - not for 14 days - but for 14 YEARS from 1979-1993, when the authorities finally granted registration to his organisation, now called Calcutta Rescue*
That’s a tiny fraction of Jack’s extraordinary story, and whilst most doctors retire to a comfortable life at around age 65, Jack Preger today continues his selfless work in Kolkata, eschewing material wealth and possessions, living in simple accommodation, dedicating himself to the continuation of his work - now, at the age of 83.
Jack is a humble self-effacing man who seeks no publicity. Few people, in fact, have even heard of him.
That’s a pity, for his example is an inspiration to many, particularly to young people disillusioned by materialism.
A brief outline of his story, plus details and images of his work in Kolkata are covered on the following pages.
For those who may be interested in a deeper perspective, his life and personal philosophies are covered in a free online E-book of 17 chapters, which can be accessed here.
I hope you enjoy reading this site.
*Note: Calcutta Rescue was honoured in the 2009 India NGO awards for " creative resourcing, financial management, governance and impact in the community"
Site last updated on 31 October 2012
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