THE FIRST DAYS IN PAKISTAN
Hey, I'm Linus and I'm currently running our social impact program #onebagonechild in Karachi, Pakistan. When I packed my bags at the end of September, I was super excited, but also a little unsure about what to expect in a country like Pakistan. In a book that I read, Hasnain Kazim describes the problems of a country without perspective and the attacks he witnessed. Hasnain lived with his wife between 2009 and 2013 as a correspondent for the news magazine “Der Spiegel” in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.
So on that Saturday in September I booked my flight just four hours before departure because I still had to wait for my negative test result. I met Georg, one of our founders, at Berlin Tegel Airport. The flight during the pandemic was a bit strange. There were only about 50 passengers on the A350 and the stewards were fully dressed in overalls, goggles and masks. After our 14-hour journey, we arrived in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, early in the morning. Karachi is a 15 million metropolis located on the coast of the Arabian Sea. After catching up on some sleep, we went sightseeing: Georg had us driven through Karachi by Careem, the local Uber, and showed me the main spots that would be important to me in the next few weeks.
After my first week, all of my initial concerns were gone. I experienced a very open country with great hospitality. Everyone we met was very interested in where we were from and what we were doing in Pakistan. And even though the security with guns at the entrance of many restaurants or in the back of some pickup trucks on the streets seemed strange at first, I never felt unsafe or uncomfortable in Pakistan.
AMN PRIMARY SCHOOL
We spent a lot of time in our production facilities in the first few days checking on our employees and discussing new products. We met with Asad and Fauzea to discuss the relocation of the AMN Primary School. Since our beginnings we have supported AMN Primary, which was founded by Fauzea's mother many years ago. Since we are currently at capacity with our 96 students, we are looking for a larger building to accommodate more students. We also met with various NGOs that operate schools across the country and explored possible partnerships. After seeing several schools, we reached an agreement with The Citizen Foundation (TCF) to become Dedicated Donors for two additional schools in Karachi (more on this in the next blog posts).
PRODUCTION IN LAHORE
On my fifth day, we flew to Lahore with some workers from our production facilities to visit a factory. It is one of the largest factories in Pakistan, producing over 185,000 square meters of finished leather every month. It is one of the few that is LWG certified and is committed to complying with the environmental standards set by the Leather Working Group (LWG). After visiting and inspecting our Crazy Horse leather, we found time to visit the Badshahi Mosque. With a capacity of 100,000 worshipers, it is the second largest mosque in Pakistan and the eleventh largest in the world. We were the only white visitors and were a popular subject for photography. We took numerous selfies with local visitors, all of whom were curious about what had brought us to Lahore. In the evening we met with the factoru owners for a traditional Pakistani BBQ with lots of chicken and goat meat - very tasty!
More about my work and my adventures in Pakistan in the upcoming blog posts - stay tuned!