The expulsions, the prison, corruption never stopped Jack materialising his life’s work…
Jack arrives in Calcutta, 2 hours away from the Bangladesh border, to continue to demonstrate about lost children.
« I was still taking care of these problems of false adoptions and I thought I could continue doing this from here. The same language and the medical problems were similar.»
Besides that, he joins Mother Teresa’s work, but soon leaves as he does not adhere to her fervent religious philosophy and proselytism.
He starts treating, all on his own, the destitute in a slum under the bridge of Howrah.
« There was an important concentration of poverty here. All these people had arrived from Bangladesh with next to nothing and had gone through terrible moments. In these awful moments, they tried to avoid getting thrown out and looked for jobs. They desperately needed help and a lot were sick. Epidemics of malaria, chicken pox, mumps, many were very poorly under this bridge.»
The government then considered Jack’s work as illegal (illegal practice of medicine) and threw him out of the country many times. He was sent to prison for having resisted these administrative obstacles.
« The Anglo-Indians of Calcutta are particularly devoted to Saint Anthony of Padua. When I had big problems, an Anglo-Indian employee working with me said that the tradition wasn’t to light a candle in church, but to bring some bread on a Monday and the bread would be distributed to beggars after mass. (…) after having left the church, I was arrested by the police and put in prison.
That same evening, I thought it was a very strange reaction on behalf of Saint Anthony. I had brought some bread to church, and now I was lying on the floor of this cell. However, it was the best thing that could have happened to me…»
After having been liberated, the authorities took away his passport and forbade him to leave India during his trial…
"this allowed me to work without visa problems during eight and a half years... the duration of my trial. »
Jack starts each morning by hanging tarpaulins on the pavement of Middleton Row, in a privileged neighbourhood. In the evening, everything has to be put away and cleaned as though it had never existed.
« Each place I tried to set up a place to treat people, the mafia (…) asked for 100 rupees from each doctor working at the clinic. (…) I preferred to pay lawyers to fight, as far as the Supreme Court because if we won, it would be finished. (…) so we paid lawyers and we won and finally did not have to pay for the privilege of treating people. »
Eight and a half years of trial, prison, expulsions, incessant corruption attempts and all sorts of other obstacles never stopped Jack to going on with his life’s work.
Support his action
This free treatment constitutes an indispensable basis for this impoverished population, exposed to a low quality of life, poor food and hygiene conditions and many illnesses.
To encourage patients to come to one of the four Calcutta Rescue clinics, hospital staff provide them with food and money for their travel expenses. This compensates the loss of income for those who could not go to work.