Amin Sheikh, who was once a homeless person and used to survive by begging in the streets of Mumbai is not afraid to ask questions. He asks-
“Why can’t someone with minimal money enjoy sitting in a cafe?”
As an answer to his own question Amin has opened a cafe for the homeless, named Bombay to Barcelona, in Mumbai. Here is the story of his inspiring journey from being a street child to the owner of one of the most amazing cafes of India.
Amin’s struggle as a child
Amin ran away from home when he was 5 years old and started working in a tea shop. He could not bare the torture of his abusive parents and left home permanently. He continued struggling in the streets of Mumbai till he was 8 years old. After 3 years he was taken to an orphanage named Sneha Sadan. Amin in his post in The Humans of Bombay said –
“Sister Serafina came up to me and said, ‘come to Sneha Sadan, we will take care of you’, but I was scared because previously, people had lured me into their homes and raped me.”
He goes on to say that Sister Serafina’s continuous insistence changed his life.
Amin’s Silver Lining
After Amin came to the orphanage his life changed completely. He continued living in that orphanage for 10 years under Sister Serafina and Father Place. He was given a job as a driver/ manager for Mr. Eustace. It was from him that Amin learned to speak fluent English. It is from here that he understood the importance of a self-identity. Amin, now apart from being the owner of a cafe, is also a succesful tour operator and also an author.
Origin of Bombay to Barcelona
Amin Sheikh’s experience made him come up with the idea of the cafe. His cafe broke the conventional idea that a cafe is made only for the upper middle class or for the rich people. His cafe was inaugurated on the Independence day. The Bombay to Barcelona Library Cafe has broken the stereotype conventions of this class-conscious society.
The staff in this cafe are all former street children. Amin has been brave enough to question one of the biggest crisis that prevails in the Indian society-the disparity between the rich and the poor, the deprivations that a less earning person has to face.
Because Indian society is much more stratified and class-conscious. “If I had gone to a coffee shop, this is how high society would think: ‘What is this bloody driver doing here?’,” says Sheikh. “But this bloody driver is also human.”
Amin has taken up the responsibility of bridging the gap between the rich and the poor. His cafe is open to every stratum of the society. He warmly welcomes everyone and aims at providing quality food for all his customers.
“When I was a driver, I never had money to have a coffee at one of the [Indian] cafes,” he says. “In that much money, I could get a full chicken meal and a tea. I don’t understand why a cup of coffee is that expensive — has it got gold in it? Has it come from the moon? Everyone deserves to go somewhere nice.”
Amin spreads the Love
Amin has poured all his savings and all his love to make this cafe. His passion is something is something from which we should all take a lesson. This homeless boy’s story will encourage us to live our dreams. The Cafe which is affordable for everyone offers some small artifices made by the street children. This earning goes directly to them. The Bombay to Barcelona Cafe with its warmth and touch of love brings back our belief in the presence some goodness in this world still.
We wish Amin all the luck so that he can proceed further with his passion and his intent to create a difference in this world. He is a true inspiration for every human being who dares to dream.