Calcutta Rescue
What it does, and how it helps - in many different sectors.

After fourteen years operating at the roadside, Jack Preger's pavement clinic - finally - led to the legal establishment of Calcutta Rescue as a charity. Today, and despite India's advancing technology, space and nuclear energy programmes, an estimated one third of Kolkata's population still lives in slum areas, with impoverished people living far beyond the reach of overworked social services. Many have no identification which intensifies the problem. 

Many Indians unfortunately believe their suffering is 'deserved' caused by their own karma, or through bad actions in past lives. Compassion is therefore often absent. 

Calcutta Rescue operates the following programmes:

FOUR SEPARATE MEDICAL CLINICS: Located in different areas of Kolkata which offer free primary healthcare, plus specialist medical programmes, including life-saving treatment for people with serious conditions such as HIV, multi-drug resistant TB, leprosy, diabetes, and malignancies. 

CLINICS ON WHEELS:Stationed close to slum areas, allowing residents easy access on foot to free medical care, plus health education, hygiene and disease prevention.

RURAL MEDICAL CLINICS: Operate in the outlying countryside, providing free medical treatment and health care for impoverished villagers.

TWO EDUCATIONAL CENTRES IN KOLKATA: Provide free education, recreation, health care, nutrition, and the prospect of a successful future to disadvantaged or orphaned children. 

WATER HYGIENE AND ARSENIC FILTERS: Poor sanitation and polluted drinking water are the genesis of disease. Calcutta Rescue is committed to the progressive installation of toilets and water pumps in slum communities, and filters to remove potentially fatal levels of arsenic from rural wells and water sources. It as now installed and maintains arsenic filters with electric pumps in 12 village locations.

VOCATIONAL TRAINING PROGRAMMES: Provide instruction and on the job training to give uneducated people a useful skill which will allow them them to earn a living.

A FAIR TRADE HANDICRAFTS WORKSHOP: Offers instruction in the making of handicrafts and decorative items. The workers learn valuable skills, earn a good salary, and the revenue from sales helps to fund the work of Calcutta Rescue. Over fifty people are now at work for Calcutta Rescue, empowered by their training, making high quality, hand-made articles including clothes, decorations and attractive gift items. 

A selection can be viewed here and may provide some meaningful solution to "what to buy as a gift for someone who has everything!"

An order form is here

If you are visiting Kolkata you can fill your suitcase with thoughtful gifts for folks at home at the Tala Park Workshop! Address: 1/1, Olai Chandi Road, Belgachia, Kolkata – 700 037 Mobile +91 82403 86505 / 98309 36433 WhatsApp
Email -

The annual cost of maintaining the operation is approximately 700,000 Euros, generated by Support Groups in different countries, and individual donors inspired by Jack Preger's story, plus impressed by what Calcutta rescue has become today - a compassionate, no-frills, cost-effective organisation, dedicated to helping the helpless. 

If you wish to help, you can donate any amount, secure in the knowledge that your contribution will go directly to help the people described in this text, and not to maintain air-conditioned offices, pay salaries for executives, or support a costly administration. If you visit Kolkata, you will be able to witness this work happening for yourself - and inevitably be inspired by it. Inspection tours of the clinics and schools are arranged on a regular basis.

If you wish to leave an amount in your will, the benefit will continue after you pass away. That's a nice thought. Full details of the Calcutta Rescue charity are recorded on the UK website here

Locally employed Indian staff, including the doctors, work for a basic salary which
they often need to supplement by taking a second job.

Calcutta Rescue offers three fixed centres which provide a first point of contact for poor people facing a health problem. These provide a basic foundation for consultations, provisional diagnoses, simple investigations,  assessment, treatments and follow-ups. 

The fourth clinic at Tala Park (above) represents the heart of Calcutta Rescue's medical infrastructure. Patients receive treatment here for serious conditions such as cancer, heart disease, HIV, diabetes, and other serious conditions which are referred to hospitals for surgery, radiotherapy or other procedures. The clinic also provides physiotherapy, speech therapy, counselling, support for children with disabilities. It also operates an ongoing programme of health education and lectures. All treatments are free.

Two mobile clinics offer medical services within walking distance of 25 slum communities whose residents are are often unable to travel into the city due to immobility, illness, family obligations, fear or other reasons. Bringing a well-equipped clinic almost to their doorsteps provides not only treatments and essential medication, it gives a feeling of security to slum dwellers at the outer margins of health care and social services.

For people in need in rural areas, Jack also pioneered scheduled visits to outlying villages
and communities in liaison with village heads and community leaders.

Calcutta Rescue's two educaional centres provide education for hundreds of children from the ten poorest slums in the city; children who would otherwise have little chance of an education. Many have parents who are illiterate, some are orphans, others do not even know who their parents are. Some are already working as child labourers, some have been cruelly abused; they only knowledge common to all is that of extreme poverty. Instruction for the youngest pupils includes the basic English alphabet, arithmetic and hygiene. Older ones study reading and and writing in Hindi/ Bengali, maths, general knowledge and simple English. They are loved by teachers and staff, something, alas, which many have never experienced.

Also of importance is constructive recreation, and all kids can participate in various
team sports, music, art projects, yoga lessons, singing and dance. 

Successful older children receive sponsorships to attend government or private schools. Very bright students Calcutta Rescue go to university. All children are provided with uniforms, two nourishing meals a day, medical and dental care, plus individual support with their studies. Calcutta Rescue’s schools were awarded the "School That Cares" award in 2018 for the most caring school in West Bengal at the Telegraph School Awards for Excellence.

Learning a useful skill can make the difference between poverty and prosperity. Calcutta Rescue helps unskilled labourers to embark on courses or apprenticeships which will open the door to productive skilled and semi-skilled employment such as  hairdressing, massage therapy, auto mechanics, plumbing, weaving and carpentry.

Bengali people are naturally creative, even with little or no education. The creation of Calcutta Rescue’s Fairtrade handicraft project provides an open door for those with an artistic leaning to create appealing products for sale in the handicrafts shop, to hone their abilities, earn a salary, and also provide valuable supplementary income for the charity. Training is provided to expand their talent, including designers from Europe so that the products remain desirable both in style and concept. 

Foreign volunteers display handicrafts on sale to tourists at the famous Fairlawn Hotel in Sudder Street, Kolkata. 

The Calcutta Rescue Head Office is located on the fourth floor of an old building, up narrow, well-worn stairs.  There are no plush offices. No executive salaries. No high-tech equipment. No air-conditioning. No staff cars. No personal expense accounts. No entertaining. No nice green surroundings. Foreign volunteers pay for their own travel to Kolkata, accommodation, food and personal expenses. 

Foreign volunteers provide varying degrees of assistance. Although those with some medical or nursing experience are particularly valuable, all skills and abilities can prove useful - including  the design of posters and medical illustrations, such as this example. The young lady holding the poster went on to become a doctor, and is now active in Connecticut's street medicine programme in the United States.

I don’t think anywhere in the world people are living in worse conditions than along
the filthy canals and rubbish dumps of Kolkata.”
-Jack Preger