History & Mandate:-
According to various studies, substance use in Nepal began in the late 60s with an influx of Hippies, who then came to Nepal mainly to enjoy the high-quality marijuana & hassis use which (of course) was legal at that time and also to relish the scenic beauties of the country. Marijuana has been used in Nepal from centuries especially by Holy-men known as Sadhus or Jogis "to forget the earthly experience of joy & sorrow"and it is also used & smoked by normal people too but not for above reason rather for pleasure & joy itself and also as a medicine as it helps to improve the appetite for people with the problem as well as to treat various diseases like pain, anxiety etc. and in remote areas people use marijuana to treat several diseases affecting their herds (cows, sheeps). In few of our festivals like one in the birthday of Lord SHIVA who is considered & worshipped by ALL Hindus as "God of all Gods" as well as "God of Destruction" marijuana is smoked by millions of people in temples across the country showing their faith to Lord SHIVA. It is written in several Hindu religious literatures & is believed that Lord SHIVA used to smoke marijuana, hence it is legal to use & smoke marijuana, hashis & its by-products on that particular day i.e. birthday of Lord SHIVA called "SHIVA-RATRI".
Apart from marijuana & hashis, other drugs such as Cocaine, (high-quality) White Sugar, Brown Sugar (mostly imported/trafficked from countries like Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, India etc.) and pharmaceutical drugs like Phensidyle was very popular among and were common in use by Nepali drug users from late 70s to late 80s.
In the late 80s, this drug using trend shifted from Oral to Injection use mainly due to severe law enforcement on illicit (oral) drug use together with an easy availability of new (Injection) Pharmaceutical Drugs such as Buprenorphine (Brand name-Tidigesic), and poor-quality Brown-sugar (Home-made especially for injection use) all of which were comparatively cheaper & coming from the bordering Indian cities like Rakshaul, Sunauli etc. due to the open-border system between Nepal & India. Thus these new pharmaceutical injection drugs reached their desinations & were easily and cheaply avaiable at all urban & sub-urban areas, highways and bordering districts with India just in a matter of weeks or months in maximum. This switch in drug using trend and severe law enforcement pushed people who use or inject drugs (PWIDs) even farther making them more difficult to reach and thus escalated high risk behaviors among them (PWID) such as sharing & re-use of non sterile needle/syringes and injecting equipments, which resulted in a peak prevalence of HIV & HCV infections i.e. up to 68% of HIV infection and more than 90% of HCV infection ratio amongst PWID community of Nepal around 2002.
Confronted with this harsh reality, around 2003 a group of individuals who use & or inject drugs met in a drug rehabilitation center (in the process of their drug treatment) agreed to take up some actions against harms of risky drug use and prevention, treatment & care of HIV & AIDS. Meanwhile some of the members of this group had been diagnosed with HIV & HCV infections and others were struggling with social re-integration issue. Grave stigma & discrimination was widespread toward people who use drugs (PUDs) and PLHIVs, while proper Drug and HIV treatment & care programs & alternatives were near to non-existence. Therefore, this group of energetic individuals decided to take stand for themselves and for their communities via fighting a battle; a battle for the protection & promotion of health & civic rights of PUDs & PLHIVs in Nepal.
Therefore, SATHI SAMUHA (or Friends Group in English) was founded as a community-led organization "by & for" people who use or inject drugs & people living with HIV/AIDS in Kathmandu- Nepal. It was legitimately registered under the District Administrative Office of Kathmandu and is affiliated with the Social Welfare Council of Nepal (SWC) on February 2006. Since then, the organization has moved forward and have expanded its programs and geographical coverage as well as its target populations to achieve its aim & objecctives, hence SATHI currently is working primarily on the prevention & treatment of HIV/AIDS and viral Hepatitis among PWIDs and HIV treatment, care & support programs for PLHIV along with one of its prime organizational strategy of-ADVOCACY for the Health & Civic rights of PWIDs & PLHIV at local, national, regional and international levels.