Offering a ray of hope to drug addicts since 1995
The total number of people living with HIV in India was estimated at 2.09 million in 2011. Approximately, 1,48,000 people died of AIDS related causes in 2011 in India. Maharashtra has the second highest prevalence of HIV (0.32 million). While the overall rate of prevalence of HIV among IDUs (Injectable Drug Users) at the national level is 7.14% (2010-11), the same statistic for Maharashtra is one of the highest at 14.2%. The good news is that these levels have been decreasing steadily. The statistics for HIV prevalence among IDUs stood at 9.9% for India and at 20% for Maharashtra in 2008-09. This has been possible due to the stellar work done by NGOs such as Sankalp Rehabilitation Trust.
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How it all began
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.
A glimpse into the lives changed
Sanjay first met me at the Tardeo RTO and directed us to Sankalp’s Mumbai Central DIC. I assumed he was part of the Sankalp staff and thanked him for his help. 20 minutes later, I saw a completely different avatar of the same man. The same man, now Sanjay ‘sir’ was leading the Group Discussion session with thirty clients in a manner which was almost obama-esque. He spoke with clarity, conviction and depth, just like a champion orator. What he was doing was motivating the group of men listening to him to kick the habit of drug usage. He spoke at length about his own history and the events leading up to this day, where he successfully managed to come clean.