A rented house in Bangalore and a vision was all Ashok Rau and Karl Sequiera had when they started Freedom Foundation in 1992. Convinced that addiction is a mind altering disease which can be treated, they adopted a unique bio-psycho-socio model specific to the Indian context. Their first patient was an Italian. Slowly, word spread around and the numbers grew.
In 1995, unable to accommodate the increasing flow of patients from all over India, they shifted to a chicken farm. Karl and Ashok lived on the premises and did everything themselves - from cutting grass and doing masonry for the sheds to cooking and looking after patients. This made the big difference. They were accessible and affordable and within a year, the first tangible support came in the form of a 6-month financial aid - the result of an individual initiative of a member of INODEP Asia, based in Netherlands.
Where there is an addict, can AIDS be far behind? During a rehabilitation programme, a patient tested HIV positive. Suddenly he had nowhere to go - neither family nor hospital was willing to take him in. It was then that Freedom Foundation came up with the idea of a separate short stay care home for HIV positive people.
Providentially, Levi Strauss & Company came forward with seed money in the form of a one-time grant that could sustain them for a year. That was in 1996. Freedom Foundation then opened its Day Care Centre for the HIV positive at Hennur. It became the first of its kind in India.
Levi Strauss once again granted aid in the form of a maintenance grant for the year 1997. Since then, the Foundation’s HIV/ AIDS initiatives have only grown, diversified and spread across the South Indian states.
The Foundation turns none from its doors because it works on sheer faith and the will to serve. Thus Changing Lives…. Making a Difference!