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From the President’s Desk
Kalyan Kr Dasgupta, IAS(Retd.)

               Turning Point is a registered non-governmental organisation with a definite mission. In a humble way we have started our efforts to rehabilitate mentally challenged persons. In this context, the word ‘rehabilitation’ has two connotations- social rehabilitation and economic rehabilitation. A limited number of persons who are associated with us are full members of Turning Point family. An outsider will not be able to distinguish between a caregiver and a caretaker in our organization. We try to appreciate their problems with a deep sense of empathy and this is possible only when their problems are also our problems. There is a constant flow of caretakers. Some of them get both social and economic rehabilitation. At times, caretakers of yesteryears are helping us today as caregivers. Some caretakers are yet to be rehabilitated. We have already crossed a distance, although we are fully aware that there is no end to this road. 

               The concept of mental health, as distinguished from physical health, is yet not clear to our society. Hence, we have to face the problem of social stigma. Mental illness is curable, but the period of treatment may be relatively long. But, then we have to take medicines for such long time for a number of physical ailments also. I am taking medicines for last 30 years for keeping my blood pressure under control, with regular checkup. I may have to take such medicine for the rest of my life. Similar is the case for diabetes and many other physical illnesses. Society is not unkind to us. Yet, without any rhyme or reason, the society is not so considerate to mentally challenged persons. They have done no wrong. It is not their fault. It is the fault of the society, which today has no time to probe into the root causes of mental illness. Some of the illnesses may have physical root, some may have genetic background- but a major cause of increasing number of mental illness is the ever increasing stress and strain in our daily life. In this age of rapid progress of science and technology there is a mad rush for amassing wealth. This has almost turned into a social aberration. The rat race starts when a child is just 3 years old for admission in a socially acceptable school. The race continues unabated till joint entrance examination and even thereafter. But everyone was not born to be an engineer or a doctor or a management expert. Some of them may have other creative abilities- but they do not get any opportunity to nurture their abilities willingly or unwillingly. They have to run a race for achieving a goal, which may or may not suit their temperament. Parents of nuclear families are aware of the need for looking after physical health of their children- but they are totally unaware of the need for developing their mental health. The childhood is wasted in running the rat race. Pursuit for knowledge is very important, but the golden days of childhood never returns and should also be enjoyed for full nourishment of mental health. Creative ability of a child may be blunted in search for knowledge if started before the ground is ready to take it. Mental treasures are not less important than physical treasures. In a nuclear family, children of this generation are initially handicapped. They are extremely lonely- more so, when both the parents are required to go out. 

               We do not have the means to check the stresses and strains of life. They are going to stay and we have to cohabit with them. Psychiatrists can reduce mental aberrations up to a certain stage. Thereafter comes the role of psychotherapist. He/she has to be the friend, philosopher and guide of the mentally challenged person for their social rehabilitation, which must precede the economic rehabilitation. The success 0f this composite effort fully depends on the cooperation of the parents. They know their sons/daughters much better than anyone else.  

               Turning Point is a cooperative venture of the mentally challenged persons, psychiatrists, psychotherapists and last but not the least the parents of the mentally challenged persons. When a mentally challenged person has isolated himself for a long time, we bring them back with love and affection. We practice group therapy and some innovative methods to bring back the confidence they had lost under compelling circumstances. 

               We are fortunate to have with us Ishita Sanyal, the Secretary of the oragnisation. She had all along been livewire of the organisation. The success of our experiment in Turning Point has been internationally recognized and she is now the recipient of David Feinsilver Award. Smt. Srijata Bagchi is our Treasurer since inception of Turning Point. Smt. Jaya Das, Smt. Shilpi Roy, are working with us for providing various vocational skills to caretakers e.g. computer training, music, dance, painting, stitching and needlework etc. They share our missionary zeal. We do not have the resource to offer them remuneration and even proper honorarium. They all feel the inner urge to serve a noble cause. Sri Amitabha Dutta, once a caretaker, is now Assistant Secretary of our Executive Committee. With his immense creative abilities, he is in a position to train others on computer, painting, spoken English etc.  

               One of our methods to bring back the caretakers to normal life is to keep them happy. Hence, we regularly organise excursions, picnics, cultural functions where they get an opportunity to express their creative abilities. Our next cultural programme is on 4th September at Swabhumi. The persons who have so far been denied their rightful place in the society would entertain us with a programme on laughter! Some talented artists will provide them the necessary helping hands.

               We welcome all of you to get fun and entertainment from the cultural show with the only request that you think for a while about our mission. If you feel that we are serving a right course, extend your hand for cooperation of any type.


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