We live in an era where humanity is lost because people have abandoned using their conscience as their compass. When we were toddlers, we looked up to intelligent people. But as we grow up, we inculcate a greater sense of reverence towards kind people. Humans exist, humanity doesn’t.
When we were born, being human was a given, but keeping humanity alive is a choice. Amin Sheikh is an individual who works diligently towards serving the underprivileged and homeless of the nation. Once a street child, Amin is now an entrepreneur and a published author.
Miserable early life
Amin grew up in a poor family in Malad, Mumbai. His father was an alcoholic and left the family when Amin was just five-year-old. Soon after, his mother remarried. His stepfather would abuse him every day. Amin would do odd jobs at such tender age. He would work in a bakery for 10 hours, earning just Rs 2.
Soon enough, Amin began working at a tea stall. One day, while carrying trays of tea glasses, he tripped and all the glasses were shattered to pieces. With the knowledge of the repercussions that would follow, which was getting beaten up, both at the shop and home, he decided to run away. He went and sat at Malad station with no clue of what to do.
Amin saw many children at the station playing games and soon, he joined them. He did various odd jobs like polishing shoes, coolie, selling various things, and even singing in trains for money. Many passengers would drive him away because of his voice.
“I started living all across Mumbai. I would take the train and go wherever it took me. I lived like this for three years and did not know what to do. Anybody would come and rape me, break me, hurt me, and tear me down,” tells Amin in an interview with KenFolios.
Opening of a door, entrance of an angel
When Amin turned eight, an Angel walked into his life in the form of sister Seraphine. His sister, Sabira, who had also fled from home in search of him reunited with him at Dadar station. Sister Seraphine took both of them to Sneh Sadan, an orphanage for the homeless.
Here is where Amin’s life took an alternate route. Although, one day, he ran away from there, too because he could not recite a prayer and was scared to face the situation. Father Placido Fonseca found and counselled him and took him back home, where he belonged. At the shelter, Amin had some of the most amazing years of his life and felt loved, accepted, and cared for.
He then got a job as an assistant for the renowned Eustace Fernandes, known for the formulation of the Amul Girl. While working there, Amin never felt that he was looked down upon or treated badly. He was given a lot of respect. “Eustace’s friends would come from all across the globe and would always refer to me by my name. They never called me a driver and treated me equally,” he tells.
The life changing trip
Every Christmas, Eustace would gift Amin something. In 2002, he asked Amin what he wanted for the festival. Without any hesitation, Amin told him that he wanted to go to Barcelona and only Eustace can open the unknown doors of the world for him to understand and know about different things and people.
Later that night, Eustace made a card and gave it to Amin. The card said, ‘Merry Christmas Amin. April 23, 2003 Flight ticket to Barcelona.’
Amin travelled to Barcelona the following year. The first thing he noticed was that there was not a single homeless child on the street. People treated one another with respect. The cafés did not show discrimination of any sorts. There were numerous questions running through his head.
“We come from a country where we talk about spirituality day and night, so strongly, but why is there a disconnect with reality? Everyone claims to be proud of being an Indian but how can we be proud when a thousand million children are on the streets? We talk about going to the moon and Mars, building our army, navy, bullet trains, but why don’t we think of building humanity” questions Amin.
Birth of B2B Library Café
Amin was tremendously thankful to Eustace for all that he did for him. After coming back to Mumbai with the thought of starting something to serve people, he began a library Café in Marol, Mumbai called Bombay to Barcelona.’
The Café is run by the street kids, giving them an opportunity to take control of their lives and sustain themselves. Amin had to face various atrocities initially and was also cheated many a times. Despite of this, he never gave up on his idea.
He has also written a book Life is Life, I am because of You, which is already an international bestseller. His book is available in nine languages and has already sold around 20 thousand copies. He uses the profits of sale to help fund his café. He now plans to open up a Café in Barcelona which will be run by refugees and homeless people.
People like Amin are a gift to our society. Despite various challenges at his end, he continues to work for the society and to serve people. We are truly proud of him and everything he does for people in dire need of help and support.
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