Jovago Pakistan recently interviewed a college going American girl Malee who visited Pakistan. Malee has been helping a Pakistani lady to run her school to educate people of Pakistan. Do read Malee’s most interesting experience of Pakistan.
Our first question is who is Malee? Tell us a little detail about yourself?
I am a 26 year old college student and I live in the northwestern hemisphere of America on the border of Vancouver and Portland.
I am working on my bachelors in business at the moment. I am also an artist as well as a writer on my free time. I am not married and I don’t have any children (yet).
I was born in Boise, Idaho but I have moved a lot in my life. I lived in Germany briefly when I was little and I went to Mexico a couple of years ago. So going to Pakistan was a big “leap” for me!
What was the primary reason to visit Pakistan?
I have been helping a woman and her school for almost 2 years now and when I went to Pakistan I had been helping them about 1 year at that point.
The woman that I had been helping tried to come to America to visit a couple of times but her visa got denied twice so I ultimately made the choice to go to Pakistan to visit her, her family and the students that I had grown very close to.
What was your perception about Pakistan before your trip?
Honestly I had a lot of anger and sadness.
I do realize that America is far from perfect too. I did a lot of research about Pakistan and I had also developed strong bonds with the students and the woman I am helping.
As a result of this I got to hear a lot of personal stories. I went through a lot of mental processing before I chose to fly to Pakistan by myself.
I was afraid of getting kidnapped but I decided to listen to my heart and let go of any judgments I had.
How will you describe your trip to Pakistan in three words?
Emotional beautiful enlightening.
Your trip to Pakistan was inclined towards a charitable cause instead of exploring Pakistan itself. What made you to support a cause for PAKISTAN?
I actually got to explore Pakistan a little.
I didn’t get to go to Hunza Valley but I did fly into Lahore and from there I visited Islamabad, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi and Murree. I actually have been interested in humanitarian work my whole life.
I was following Malala Yousafzai when I discovered the woman I am helping now. I know that Malala is not popular among all Pakistani’s but I followed her story and what was happening with the Taliban at the time.
Malala had posted a documentary about a woman and her school on her page and I watched it. Little did I know that the woman in the documentary was there on Facebook replying back to me. That is how we met.
I developed a close relationship to her pretty quickly. I never had any idea that I could help people in remote villages on my own but a connection was made that would end up never being broken despite her receiving multiple death threats.
How many Pakistani cities you have visited so far?
As mentioned before I got to visit Lahore, Murree, Rawalpindi, Gujranawala and Islamabad.
What 3 places you love the most in the cities you visited in Pakistan?
The Mall of Lahore was really nice but I think that I enjoyed the Bazzar’s the most because the clothing had good prices and also the clothing was/ is absolutely beautiful.
I brought home so many clothes my suitcases were about to break. I really enjoyed going to a culture festival at Murree. It was at a hotel I just cannot think of what it is called at the moment.
A third place would be downtown Lahore.
I actually got to walk around by myself a few times and I had no issues despite the fact that I flew into Lahore 3 days after the Easter Park bombing.
I wasn’t afraid and I wanted to walk around by myself without anyone escorting me. I had a good time visiting all the shops.
What 3 places you will recommend to every American to visit in Pakistan?
I would say Hunza Valley because every Pakistani recommends me to go there.
Islamabad and Lahore are exciting cities that a person or a group of people can have fun at. There is good eating, shopping and site seeing everywhere.
If you get a chance to visit Pakistan again, which 3 destinations you would like to explore?
Definitely Hunza Valley, Islamabad and Murree more.
What were some of the problems you faced in Pakistan as a foreigner?
I had to be on the move a lot due to security purposes.
Luckily I had people around me that spoke English and Urdu/ Punjabi both because I had a hard time communicating sometimes. The shop keepers always want to bargain and charge you more if you are a foreigner.
I had to be careful about the water I drank because one time I was visiting a village and women were cooking on the ground and using well water and after that I was sick for 3 days.
So be careful about the water you drink and where it comes from. Always drink bottled water or water that has been boiled well.
What will be your answer if anyone asks you, “Why Should I visit Pakistan?”
Because you will experience a different culture and the people, food and clothes are incredible and welcoming. There is some beautiful scenery. They know how to welcome and treat their guests very well!
Out of the different types of cuisines you had in Pakistan, which one was your favorite?
This is difficult for me because I have a hard time pronouncing all the names and remembering them.
I honestly just ate what my hosts gave to me. The food was spicy but after I came back to America I found American food to be boring and tasteless!
Share one of your most memorable moment or incident in/about Pakistan.
This is a difficult question! I have so many times that come back to me.
One of my last memories was me walking into the airport and the woman that I was helping asked me to turn around so she could see me one last time.
That is a very emotional memory to me.
Also the last time I went to her village in Gujranwala I had to tell all the students and children I was leaving. Her mother was crying.
They all stood in a circle around me and cried and each one of them gave me a hug. I was so sad. I still cannot think of that memory without wanting to cry.
Any ending note for readers?
Considering the times we are in now I want everyone to know that I understand why America may be seen as the enemy but please don’t play into that game.
There are good and bad people on both sides.
I read and heard the worst of the worst about Pakistan before I decided to go over there but I listened to my heart and I had some of the best times of my life. I met amazing people who suffer more than I can imagine suffering.
There are many people here in America who are saddened by what is happening so please don’t think that all Americans support his hate that is being spread by the current administration.
There is an old saying “divide and conquer”. Those in power want people to be divided so they can get more control over people because people are easier to control when they live in fear.
If I had chosen to live in fear then I would not have chosen to fly to Pakistan alone and have the experience of a lifetime.