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NEPAL JESUIT SOCIETY, Reg. Lalitpur 2/029

Title of Program
Freedom Centre (Mukti Kendra)

Implementing Agency
St. Xavier's Social Service Centre

Description of the Program
The late Father Thomas E. Gafney, S.J., began the St. Xavier's Social Service Centre in 1970. He soon saw the need to help drug users free themselves of their addiction so in 1976, along with Dr. Desh Raj Kunwar, M.D., a psychiatrist, began a detoxification program for heroin users. He soon discovered that detoxification is not enough so in 1983 opened the Freedom Centre. Mr. Rajendra Shrestha started the work with Fr. Gafney and is now the Manager and Counselling Therapist, working with counselors Krishna Thapa, Megh Jit Rai, and Tri Ratna Manandhar. Mr. Rachan Yonjon manages the plant. The centre can now care for up to 25 young men at a time. Our clients come with their parents and/or wives for an initial interview. Work with the family is essential to helping the clients overcome their problems, most of which are psychological. Family members are generally part of the clients' problems therefore must be involved in the treatment process. If we think there is a good chance of success we accept clients for treatment. They promise to stay at least three months, though generally stay longer. They pay NRs.3,500 per month. (NRs.77.30 = US$1.00) This fee covers about 65% of our operating cost. The rest is made up by donations. We do not turn people away for financial reasons so some pay less and a few nothing at all. We do not consider the clients' HIV status. The drugs used in Nepal are mostly marijuana, barbiturates, buprenorphine and heroin. There is little amphetamine abuse and no cocaine.

We generally do not use medication during the detoxification period but find that auricular acupuncture helps calm the clients; removing craving for drugs, leading to a little more comfort and a better appetite. In 1988 people from the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, New York, trained our staff and now Rajendra is certified to train others.

The clients live as a community and are given small responsibilities, including cooking and cleaning. Most days there is a two hour group counseling session, and each client is assigned a therapist who meets the client regularly. We follow no special counseling technique but use what seems to work. Families visit at least once a week and monthly we have a group meeting for all the family members.

We teach our clients to lead good, honest lives. Therefore training for personal health is important. Protection from disease is an essential topic so we are sure to teach them about all common diseases. Of course we explain hepatitis in its various forms, sexually transmitted diseases, and HIV. Should a client wish to be tested for any disease, we allow the test only after counselling the client to be able to accept any result. Then we follow up with more counselling.

After a couple of months at the centre the client is ready to start home visits. These are only a few hours at first and then lengthen. We help in the rebuilding of family relationships, and once the client has enough self confidence to stand on his own and fit into his family, he moves home again.

Clients are always welcome to visit us and often we ask the newly discharged clients to visit us weekly. We encourage these young men to visit us for monthly group meetings.

Target Beneficiaries
Male drug users who wish to free themselves from their addiction. Hopefully our former clients can lead balanced, honest and open lives, and can keep in contact with us for mutual support.


Financially, we constantly need some support to be able to help economically poor drug users. We have our own buildings. To sustain the program we see to constant upgrading of our counselling staff and facilities. We are in a position to give training to counsellors from other treatment centres.

Rev. G. William Robins, S.J., Director,
St. Xavier’s Social Service Centre

Clients watching Televison in the centre

Small enterprise for income generation led by former clients

Prayer Flags

Father Dilip

Drug Rehab Center