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I arrive in Pakistan

It took me 30 hours from door to door from Cincinnati to my hotel bed in Karachi, arriving at 4 AM.   The city was quiet and the weather balmy with a nice breeze from the ocean, but I needed sleep badly.   My head hit the pillow just as the muazzin started the call  for prayers.  A nice reminder, but so much for sleep...

Unfortunately, today was a day of frustration.

Our main topic of business was how to get the PUR sachets out of Karachi to Sri Lanka and Indonesia.    We already have millions of sachets on the ground  in Indonesia and Sri Lanka that we sent from our Manila plant, but all of our remaining product and future production is in Karachi.  We need to get this product to the affected areas for the tsunami survivors urgently. 

Just prior to the tsunami, we had donated product to our partner Population Services International (PSI) in order to continue our efforts to make the PUR sachets available in Pakistan.   PSI is a great partner and quickly agreed that we could use the stockpiled product for the tsunami survivors. 

Unfortunately, even in a disaster, bureaucracy can be a nightmare.   We spent many frustrating hours discussing our options with the Pakistan team, PSI, and AmeriCares, who will transport the product.  We kicked around a lot of options and everyone was frustrated by the brickwalls created by the bureaucracy. 

Despite this, it was quite apparent that every single person with each organization was focused on one thing:  how to get product to the survivors as quickly as possible.  There is nothing like a shared common goal and a crisis to get the creative ideas flowing.  In the end, we developed what we pray is a solution and deployed PSI's country manager, Monte Auchenbach, directly on a flight to the capital of Islamabad to speed this process.  He has an emergency meeting with the Department of Commerce in the morning to get the needed exemption to a normally long paperwork process.

Runaas_daheemThe bright spot in the day came in the late afternoon when we visited the trade and consumers where we have been marketing PUR.   I traveled with Runaas Daheem, the PUR Brand Manager, and Syed Masood, one of our External Relations managers.   These gentleman are just two of the many P&G Pakistan employees who have poured their hearts and souls into trying to make PUR a commercial success over the last two years.   

I  wondered aloud how the local team felt about our decision to transition the market from a commercial model run by P&G to a social, non-profit model run by PSI.   Runaas feels strongly about this and didn't hesitate with his answer,  "I love the fact that we are continuing with PSI."

Mother_and_child_drink_purThe reason becomes evident during our in-home visits with consumers.   We meet several mothers who are extremely loyal PUR users and have been for five months.  They tell us about how PUR has helped eliminate their children's sickness.  I can see the pride in Runaas's face when he holds the hands of some of these children.

This is what I think about when I finally get to sleep.


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