BANGALORE: Anthony Sebastian is a nominee for the Namma Bengaluru Award 2012. In an interview with City Express, he speaks about his long journey from working on a research project to setting up a rehabilitation centre.
Echo Rehabilitation Centre was set up in 2000 by Antony Sebastian. He traces the origin of the centre to his college days in Pune, where he was pursuing a law course. He said, “The sight of those innumerable children who are forced to work and beg at the railway station of Pune had an impact on me. I wanted to do something.”
He set up the Centre to look after the problems of street children, understand them and their needs. The Centre deals with two kinds of issues: Children in conflict with law and children who need care and protection. He said, “We look into the kids’ alleged criminal mentality and also the legal implications of certain laws in our country. When I went to Holland for my Post Graduation, I did a project titled ‘Echo of a cry from the streets of Bangalore-India’ and that’s how the name Echo came into being.”
Today, Antony is working on empowering street children and also on bringing clarity to the issue of human rights. They have two centres, one in Bangalore and the other in Cochin.
Sebastian completed his schooling in Kerala, graduation from Hyderabad and a degree in law from Pune University. In 2007, he completed his doctorate on juvenile delinquency.
Today, the Government of Karnataka has given this Centre the privilege to function as a special home for convicted children too. Now, it is a home for more than 200 children. He said, “The children have a regular life style, from meditation and yoga to school.”
In the year 2003, Sebastian also initiated a programme called Traffic Police Assistance Programme, where older boys, basically school drop outs, are trained and admitted to different agencies. He said, “Today 30-35 boys are working at different traffic junctions in Bangalore.” Even private companies and institutions have recruited many of these children to manage traffic.