26 February, 2021

Where the Mind is Without Fear

It's a home for the mentally challenged. They return healed, skilled and equipped to face life.

Where the Mind is Without Fear
Remember the Bangladesh freedom struggle? A huge influx of refugees flooded Calcutta penniless and destitute. Many who could not cope with the horrors had become mentally ill. Psychiatrist Dr Satrujit Dasgupta and his friend and co-worker P.M. John, who were witness to this, thought it was time to put in their bit. A home for these patients would be ideal, they thought. The challenge was funding. But John was convinced about the mission. He took out eight annas from his wallet and the Holy Bible and assured the doctor that if their concern for the needy was genuine, god would show the way. Antara thus came into existence in October 1971.

Today, Antaragram sprawls over 13 acres of land with facilities for treating 200 patients. Says Dasgupta: "Antar suggests the mind in Bengali. Our centre, Antara, is an oasis for troubled minds. Far away from the city, nestled in greenery, Antaragram indeed has the sanctity of a village."

But it has the buzzing air of a beehive: social workers and psychiatrists working towards assisting, treating and rehabilitating the mentally...

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