This profile was prepared when Eldred Tellis was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Eldred’s new idea lies in the design and implementation of a variety of programs that use the ‘harm reduction’ approach to offer a complete treatment package for drug users. His program also builds the vocational skills and earning capabilities of the rehabilitated user community. The treatment package includes drop-in centres, shelters, outreach, drug substitution, needle and syringe exchange program, detox programs, jail programs and motivational counselling for users. Once a user enters the system, he is tracked, counselled, motivated to enter detox or drug substitution and supported through the process of conversion. Participants in Eldred’s programs practice better hygiene and are healthy. Most importantly, however, dramatic reductions in the incidence of HIV transmission are occurring in a community that has long been neglected by mainstream health agencies. Eldred is now working on a livelihoods package for the drug user community so that they can find appropriate work opportunities after they are clean. He is setting up a waste recovery and recycling service in Mumbai and is in the process of seeking commitments from local municipal authorities.