My parents founded Betel, an drug rehabilitation center, in the mid 1980s.
When I was seven years old, my family moved to San Blas, one of the poorest neighborhood in Madrid. It had the highest rate of heroin use and juvenile violence in Europe at the time. My parents tried to help the suffering people that surrounded them. With a young Australian man named Lindsay, they went out every week to the nearby Gypsy camp, the parks and the bars to meet junkies and invite them back to their small apartment. My three brothers and I took the junkies back to our rooms to play with our toys. Over the years, the men and women became our best friends. They all had nicknames: Poison, Crazy, Tiger, Hard Dick. They were pimps, conmen, bank robbers, drug dealers, and even murderers. The addicts did not know that they were HIV positive and that most would die. They were friends and brothers.
Sadly, my mother died in 2012, but my father still runs Betel. My parents always worked very hard and rarely did interviews or sought any press attention for what they did, but if you want to read about them, this is a slightly dated but good article. Today, Betel operates in over 25 countries and has almost 2,300 addicts in the center.
Tepper family 1983 when we arrived in Spain.
Tepper family 1991 before my youngest brother Timothy died.
My brothers and I all graduated from Oxford the same day. We came a long way from the streets of San Blas.