The stooping old man might look feeble but Dr Jack Preger has shouldered the well-being of a period in Bengal. From Dhaka to Calcutta, the journey of this British patron in India is beyond the scope of words or visuals.
Dr Jack Preger has seen nine decades in his life. However, when he walks down the shabby by lanes of a slum in central Kolkata, he seems unperturbed by his age and determined by virtue of a sheer joy – a joy to serve his fellow human beings. Dr Preger is a name that not too many outside West Bengal would be familiar with. He is the founder of the NGO, Calcutta Rescue, and remains an epitome of hope and selfless commitment in a world that is fast removing those words from its vocabulary.
While Dr Preger, in this exclusive interview, takes us through his journey that started in Bangladesh way back in the 1970s and how he founded Calcutta Rescue, we witnessed a young man in him and his undying enthusiasm as he consoled the poor and the marginalised dwellers of a slum near Hastings, usually known as Panbazar in Khiddepore, Kolkata.
From the shady slums of Sonagachi (his home) to the leprosy clinics of Chitpore, from the destitute children of Nilmoni Street to the regular health camps in the district of Midnapore, Calcutta Rescue, under the tutelage of Dr Jack, ensure medical attention to all those who can’t afford basic medical aid. And, most importantly, they induce the much-needed awareness about some of the diseases that still remain a social taboo under the darkness of ignorance and superstitions.
It is tricky to understand how NGOs function in India. Intricacies in the judicial system, handling local authorities, the rising competition among the NGOs, bureaucratic nuisance and acquiring funds from national and international sources; Dr Jack Preger shares his incessant tussle with the odds in India and how he still needs to prove his passion for his work and the sanctity of his intentions.
In this exclusive interview with Media India Group, he shares his undimmed pleasure and talks about his indomitable zeal.While he walks down the streets of a crowded city every day, he is probably unaware how his reflection has transcended from being just a social worker to a visionary striving for basic well-being of the poor and the underprivileged.