LONDON: A kind-hearted Pakistani man has won hearts of millions with his act of kindness and standing up for justice for a homeless man – and getting apology from the global coffee firm Starbucks.
Sajid Kahloon, 30, had no idea that he would be thrown under media spotlight when he bought food and a chocolate cake for £8.45 for a homeless man outside the Starbucks in Southend. Sajid Kahloon grew up in Gojra, a town near Faisalabad, and came to the UK in 2013 where he set up his business of restaurants and owns six joints in the seaside area of Southend.
Sajid Kahloon was having his meal on Southened High Street’s Starbucks when a homeless English man walked in looking for leftover food and asked if someone will buy a meal for him. While everyone else around ignored him, the generous Pakistani businessman reached out to him and offered to buy him a meal of his choice. Kahloon paid £8.50 for the poor man for food and cheesecake.
The homeless man sat down to eat his food at the outside seated area of the café but within seconds a member of the staff approached him, alongside a security guard, and asked him to vacate the venue because he smelled and wore tattered clothes.
Then the drama unfolded. Seeing the situation, Sajid Kahloon confronted the staff and told them they had no right to remove him since he was the customer and was eating food for which the payment had been made to dine in. As the exchange got heated, Sajid Kahloon decided to film the drama on his smart phone.
In the viral video, Sajid repeatedly asked: “The food has been bought, it has been paid for, if food is being paid for and he is eating, what is the problem?” Adding: “Is he not human? Let him finish the food then he can leave.”
“Now he is obviously eating the food, you can't just ask him to leave. Let him eat the food and he can leave, what’s the problem?” Mr Kahloon says in the clip.
“He's eating his lunch, then let him eat the food,” he adds.
After Kahloon uploaded the footage on his social media account, thousands of people had viewed it within two hours and the footage went viral. After three hours two local newspapers had published the footage. The same footage then made its way to the mainstream papers such as The Independent, Daily Mail, The Sun and websites in America, Canada, Australia, Germany, Denmark, Spain and several other countries of Europe.
The calls for Starbucks to apologise grew, forcing the business giant to apologise.
A spokesman for Starbucks said: “The interaction on video is not indicative of the environment we strive to create. We are looking into the circumstances surrounding this customer’s experience and will take appropriate action to ensure our stores remain welcoming places for everyone.
“We want every customer to have a positive experience, and we apologise that we did not meet that expectation in this instance.”
Speaking to Geo News, Sajid Kahlon said he couldn’t see that a homeless man went around asking for food and nobody seem to care for him. “I have never been in media and have occasionally used social media for fun. I saw that the poor man was hungry and looking for food. It was painful to see that someone had to search for food like that. I asked him if he was hungry and if he would like me to buy him some food? He replied yes in a very weak voice.
“He didn’t ask for money or anything else. I was shocked to see that a Starbucks employee and security guard told the homeless man he could not eat the sandwich and chocolate cake in the seating area outside the coffee shop. When I stood by his side and defended him, I was told that it was due to 'a policy of the company'. When I asked what was the policy, I received no answer. I told the staff that they were breaching human rights of the poor man who was their customer.”
Kahloon said the staff showed no humanity in asking him to leave while he ate his paid-for lunch; one of the staff members went over to him with a security officer and told him to leave. “It hurt me to see that his dignity, self-respect and self-esteem was under attack. That’s inhuman and should not be tolerated.”
Sajid Kahloon, who is the owner of Run Rooster, has been interviewed by dozens of publications and won praise from around the world for his kindness – something not common these days in the materialistic world. In total, over 70 million people have seen the video clip and news across the platforms.
Sajid Kahloon’s experience as a young boy in Gojra taught him how to be compassionate and caring. “Its part of our Pakistani culture that we are hospitable and we like to share. We should make sure that we demonstrate our cultural values wherever we can to show that we love other people. When I was growing up I remember that my mother struggled to put a meal for us on the table. We were very poor but then things changed and we worked hard to change our circumstances. Alhamdulilah, I have money to spend on others and why not.”
For Sajid Kahloon, the long-term objective is to help rehabilitate the homeless man who featured in the video. “I am in touch with him and I want to help him to get back control of his life. I want him to get a job and live a normal life. I am working on a plan for him.”
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