Video: A Pakistani Villager Flies For The First Time

Filed Under: Videos

It’s so easy to take flying for granted, not just in terms of getting from point A to point B easily, but also in terms of the actual miracle of flight. We might laugh when we see a safety video talk about how to put on your seatbelt, but the reality is that there are billions of people who have never flown before.

Al Jazeera did a documentary about a Pakistani villager who goes to Dubai at the urging of the elders in his village, so that they can help lift them out of poverty. The video explores there being more to life than money:

In the remote Pakistan village of Hakimwala, farmers battle a deadly pest that is ruining their cotton crops. Many find it difficult to afford the pesticide and face mounting debts.

The elders of the village encourage the young men to travel abroad to earn better pay and help lift the village out of poverty.

Twenty-nine-year-old Sharif has lived in Hakimwala all his life. He is an only son and drives the only car in the village. He is responsible for driving the sick to the city hospital three hours away.

But with the infestation of his cotton crops and rising debts, Sharif decides it is time to seek his fortune elsewhere.

Sharif decides to go to Dubai despite warnings from his friends. The villagers sell the car and his family sells their hard-earned lands to cover his expenses.

For the first time in his life, Sharif leaves his village, flies in an airplane and experiences a foreign land. In spite of mounting debts, Sharif is about to learn that there is more to life than money. Or is there?

Here’s a 90 second clip from the documentary where Sharif flies for the first time, as he’s headed to Dubai. His perceptions are such a great reminder of what we sometimes take for granted:

Villager Flies For The First Time

A Pakistani villager experiences #airports for the first time in our latest film. These are his first impressions.Watch as we document his journey over a course of 18-months:

Posted by Witness – Al Jazeera on Thursday, April 28, 2016


While the context is completely different, it reminds me a bit of the video I posted a couple of years ago about two older ladies flying for the first time:

Always a great reminder!

  1. “Poor and rich are travelling as equals”. Hummm, until he sees Emirates suites and first class and compares that to his coach seat. 🙂

  2. I’ve loaded this page 4 times. The video of the lil’ ol’ ladies comes up, but not Sharif’s first flight.

  3. Lucky, at least your parents believed in you!. I am 13 years old and an avid reader of this post, but my parents think that this is bullshit, how do I convince them?. My father says that if I can find Emirates First class Suite tickets from MAA to NCL,(For the same price as economy) then he will believe me. My mother says that I am mad :(.
    I will be so sad to endure that 13 hour + layover of 5 hours in coach.(and depressed 🙁 )

  4. Heh. My Chinese villager in-laws flew for the first time last week on a 747. They did very well!

  5. Nice video. Good thing he wasn’t flying to the USA, otherwise he might be pulled of the plane for speaking urdu and never have the chance to experience this.

  6. I love those videos!! We took my grandfather to Disneyland once. My dad had to drive off the freeway so he could puke at the end of the day. He spent most of his life on a horse as a real cowboy in the wild wild west. His grandchildren have lived all over the world thanks to the miracle of flight, but he never flew in a plane. Flying is amazing.

  7. Back to the village, then what?
    What a waste of resources.
    Does it make life any more bearable back at the toxic village.
    Load of crap slappig

  8. Those were great videos , thanks for bringing them . The full benefits of Sharif’s trip are yet to be realized .
    He now knows that there is more to the world and that more is possible. This could easily be a life changing experience for him.

  9. Considering how most migrant workers end up…this might not be all that life changing for him, in the long run. Still, hope he has good employers, who pay him on time, at least.

    And while it is fun to see him enjoy flying…don’t worry, he’ll be as jaded about it as the rest of us soon enough 😀

  10. Teared up watching An and Ria – especially when An got up the courage to get out of her seat … so much fun to watch. I want to be like Ria when I (don’t) grow up!!

  11. His reaction to the electronic paper towel dispenser was hysterical. I can see how that would take someone by surprise if they never seen one before and all of a sudden it starts spitting out paper towels.

  12. Reminds me of the St. Louis resident who accidentally tuned into the Blues/Chicago Blackhawks playoff hockey game, knew nothing about hockey, never watched a game previously, proceed to post absolute joy and astonishment onto Twitter. He gained 50,000 followers in one night and the Blues are gifting him a ticket to game 3 of the current playoff series…

    @Utah saints this man is seeing the world for the first time, and if he gets a decent-paying job, the money he sends back to his family helps lift them out of poverty and grants the rest of the village new economic opportunity. I wish him and everyone in similar situations all the absolute best.

  13. He clearly loved flying. Maybe he could have made it as a flight attendant for a middle eastern airline and he would be happier abroad instead of moving furniture.

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