Jack Preger was a 35-year old farmer in Wales. One day, whilst driving his tractor, a totally absurd thought came into his mind to: "become a doctor"

Absurd, for he had no interest in medicine.  

That 'thought' however was indelible. He did become a doctor, graduating at age 42, and ended up in Calcutta (now known as Kolkata) Unable to practice medicine officially, he opened a free medical clinic for the poor working -literally- 
at the side of the road.

And this extraordinary "Pavement Clinic" operated six days a week for the next fourteen YEARS.

He was once thrown in Alipore jail for his efforts.

He will retire in October 2018, aged 88.

He is an inspiration to many young people, and a living example of pure philanthropy.

A documentary film about his life and work was released in Switzerland in 2016.

Preview here  More here

 


AN OVERVIEW.

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 all 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

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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.

Backwards from here was the treatment department where wounds, burns and ulcers were taken care of. Jack's consultation centre (pictured below) was under
the central tarpaulin. The photograph dates to circa 1986.

Below image: Jack's consultation 'centre' The medical records 'department' adjoined this, with patients' files stored in metal boxes. Medical examinations  of a personal nature were conducted behind sheets of cloth.


I've met many people who've faced opposition in their efforts
to help others,
but no one who's been as systematically
harassed as Jack Preger. Fortunately he's really tough –
truly a soldier for the good"


-Ashok Mahadevan. Editor of
Reader's Digest, India

 

Jack awarded "Philanthropist of the Year" at the 2017 Asian Awards here

Despite economic progress, those at the bottom of the social scale in Kolkata live in misery. Times of India' report here

UK 'Daily Mail' report here

... Now imagine any 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 from  1979-1993, when the authorities finally granted registration to his organisation, now called Calcutta Rescue*

That’s a fraction of Jack’s extraordinary story, and whilst most doctors retire to a comfortable life at around age 65, Jack has continued his selfless work in Kolkata to the age of 88. He eschews material wealth, and lives in simple accommodation, dedicating himself to the continuation of his work. Jack is a humble self-effacing man who seeks no publicity. Few people have even heard of him. That’s a pity, for his example is an inspiration to many, particularly to young people disillusioned by materialism, and the Smartphone era.

A brief outline of his story, plus details and images of his work in Kolkata are covered on the following pages.

A deeper perspective of his life, motivation and personal philosophies are covered in an online E-book which can be viewed here.

 Site last updated
18 September 2018


Photography on this web site is original, taken by the author over a number of years. Images are copyright and may not be reproduced without permission - please see contact page

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