The India Connection

• Calcutta Rescue •

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How I met Dr. Jack and became involved in Calcutta Rescue:

While I was planning my first trip to India, a friend told me I must go and visit her friend, Jack Preger in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). “You will like what he does,” she wrote in her email. She did not tell me he was a doctor or anything about him.

I visited the then 74-year old Dr. Jack at the end of my two-month travels around India. I was deeply touched by the plight of the people Calcutta Rescue was helping.

Dr. Jack is a first-class humanitarian. (You can read much about him on internet just by googling his name – books have also been written about him).

He started his humanitarian work in Bangladesh but after exposing some corruption with high government officials and a European NGO, he became persona non grata in Bangladesh and his visa was not renewed. With his trademark dogged determination, he went to volunteer for Mother Teresa in Calcutta (then still called Calcutta). He appreciated what Mother Teresa was doing to help the dying but he felt that some of the people she was helping in their agony actually would not have to die if only they could have proper medical care and medication. He and Mother Teresa had a different philosophy of life and were often at loggerheads. Dr. Jack had no income. He set himself up on a busy tourist street and there, sitting on an orange crate with his medical kit, he attended to street dwellers.

Little by little, tourists helped and often, upon their return home, spread the word about Dr. Jack. Many continued to support his work. Support groups were formed in Europe and later around the world. Volunteers started arriving from around the world and still do. When he asked if my friends and I could help, how could I say no?

Dr. Jack was in Kingston in 2006 where he was invited to talk about his work.

Since then, with the help of friends from Kingston and surrounding areas, Calcutta Rescue Canada (for which I received charitable status in 2006) has been able to contribute about $235,000 to Calcutta Rescue.

Calcutta Rescue continues to care for hundreds of street and slum dwellers through medical clinics, schools and a vocational training section and was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation prize for Best NGO. Dr. Jack is still active at the age of 87 (2017). He has been awarded the distinction of MBE (Member of the British Empire) for his extraordinary humanitarian dedication. In 2017 Dr. Jack was named Philanthropist of the Year at the Asian Awards Ceremony in London.

Link to: Calcutta Rescue

Excellent video about Calcutta Rescue by John Versteege.

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