Amin Sheikh’s, autobiography, “Life is life, I am because of you” has all the masala which could make one of the biggest Bollywood chartbusters, says Vibha Singh
Dreams don’t have an expiry date. There are so many dreams we all have from childhood to adulthood. But how many of us have willingness to work hard towards reaching our goals, with courage, determination, and the belief that everything will be positive. There are only few of us as resolute, and, Amin Sheikh is one of them. Sheikh is the owner of one of the most innovative café in Andheri named ‘Bombay to Barcelona Library Café’. His experiences include some of the worst that make newspaper headlines. Right from a homeless boy to a successful entrepreneur, his story is one of amazement.
The very confident 36-year old Sheikh has big plans to change the life of many street children by giving them a life of self-respect away from the “bad world”. For him the first step in this direction was to get an employment for all of them. This is where there emerged the idea of opening a café.
Sheikh said, “The first job any street children whether he is run-away from home or born and brought up on streets is to work at dhabas or local hotels. So I decided to open a café to which these children could relate.” At his café he wants to welcome people from all backgrounds, and, staff the street children who have different skills. The children are offered muffin and chocolate free at his café because that is what he feels is a cherished dream of a child.
To start off with, Sheikh needed the finance, which is when he decided to write his own autobiography. Luckily enough when it got published the book became an international best seller. In this book he has narrated his journey from the time he ran from his house at the age of five scared of beatings from his father to the opening of the café. In the midst of it all, he worked as a waste-picker, waiter in a local tea shop and even sold goods in local trains. But due to the ill-treatment by the employers he kept on running from one place to another. In the process he even begged, stole money and clothes so that he could survive.
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The older boys who even made him a drug addict abused him sexually. But his life was transformed after he met his ‘angel’ as he describes her Sister Seraphin, who was working with NGO Sneha Sadan. At age of eight it was she and Fr. Placido Fonseca who transformed his life by giving him shelter and positive attitude, which reflects in the book during his stay at the NGO.
For seven years, he saved money for the cafe, and it was in 2012 when his autobiography got published that he thought of earning revenue regularly by this means. At present 12,500 copies of the book have been sold and is available in ten languages. Future plans include publishing his book in Hindi, German and Hebrew.
He opines, “The book is my story, and the connection between my dream from Bombay to Barcelona. We are trying to get the finance by selling the book on the streets, at the cafes and corporate offices. The response is not humongous. But we are all working hard to make it a big success.” People from different parts of the world have come together to help him.
According to Sheikh, “Whatever money I have earned from selling my book at traffic signals, churches, talks at cafes, libraries, blogs, websites, radio shows, companies and book stalls has been invested into the café.” And not only this, he now has an NGO in Spain called Soy Gracias a Ti who are standing by him to make this dream real for many Amin’s like him.
Talking about the project he says, “When I started the project I thought it would be very easy, but every step I took it has been difficult. But it is still possible and with this possibility I am going to try to take other steps of my dream, which includes getting married, travelling in the world and owning a dreamboat. I had lit one candle for my dream café three years ago, and today a hundred candles have been lit for my dream to be out of the dark, to be in the light.” His story has been written with great love and a compelling read for sure!