"My dream is to open a library cafe in Mumbai where any street kid can come get a cup of coffee or a chai and read whatever book he/she wishes too," says, 35-year-old Amin Sheikh, who is crowd-funding the construction of a library cafe by selling his biography.
Born and brought up on the streets of Mumbai himself, Sheikh has written and self-published his biography named 'Life is Life, I am because of you' in which he narrates his inspirational rags-to-riches journey. "Good people came to my life few years back and changed it for the better. I learned so much and most importantly about unconditional love. We usually talk about human rights, rights to equality but real life is very different from theory. There is not a single cafe in Mumbai which allows and welcomes street children. My wish is to open a library cafe where there is no bias and no social discrimination,” he says.
According to the Andheri resident, he spent most of his childhood on local trains and railway stations. Excerpts from his book reveal how he has worked as a milkman, rag-picker, coolie, fruit-seller at various railway stations, before he was associated with the NGO Sneha Sadan. "Sister Seraphine from Sneha Sadan found me at Dadar station and brought me to Sneha Sadan in 1988, after which my life took a completely new turn. Later on, I started working for Eustace Fernandes, who was a director on the board of Radeus Advertising. He was another person I am truly indebted to. In 2002, I had told him that I wished to travel to Barcelona. He planned a trip and took me to Spain in 2003 just to fulfil my wish. Since then, for the last 12 years I have been visiting Barcelona once a year. That is where I started visiting library cafes and wanted to do the same in Mumbai,” he fondly recalls.
He has published his book in different languages like English, Spanish, German, and Marathi. For the last six years, over 10,000 copies have been sold and he has already collected one fourth of the total amount he needs for his dream project. "Many people extend their help to translate the book in different languages. A man from Vasai contacted me and offered to translate the book in Marathi. I have used teh social media for publicity of the book and whenever I am free, I take permission from different churches and set up a stall to sell the books. A lot of people from abroad have read my book and have given me a good response which is very encouraging,” says Sheikh.
Sheikh’s dream project, Bombay to Barcelona Library Cafe will soon be opening in Andheri (E). To help Amin sell his book by buying a copy or to volunteer for selling the book, you can contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 9820212029.