Mr. Eldred Tellis founded Sankalp Rehabilitation Trust in 1995 and has been in the field of drug de-addiction work for the past 30 years. He was driven by his personal experiences as a drug user who managed to quit and stay clean. Having seen the trauma and neglect faced by the users up close, he was deeply motivated to develop programs that assist drug users and deliver on promises.
Eldred’s work began in the early 1990s with the setting up of the network, FORUM, of which he was a core member and coordinator for six years. FORUM offered the different groups working on drug abuse a platform for sharing their experiences, lobbying for changes in policy, and designing effective solutions.
The Government of India favored abstinence as the only treatment option and it was only when there was a rapid increase in the HIV prevalence among IDUs in Manipur in 1990, from 0 to 50 percent in six months, that it was thought possible to experiment with harm reduction. Eldred was part of the program in Manipur where he saw the suffering among drug abuse victims and the difficulties they faced in their treatment. He also realized that the same thing was happening in the streets of Mumbai where drug use is as rampant and help is as scarce.
After he came back to Mumbai, he decided to set up his own team of workers and volunteers and thus began his journey into the creation of a long term, targeted health and recovery program for the drug user community that would implement elements of harm reduction as well as longer term rehabilitation. Thus Sankalp was born.
Eldred has received numerous awards for his work in the field of rehabilitation and HIV prevention work including the prestigious Ashoka Fellowship and the Red Ribbon Award bestowed on Sankalp in 2008.