For the next 35 weeks I plan to blog, once a week, about this experience, this journey and the people of Lahore. I'll try to keep the blogs short & sweet - focusing on the highlights. But, since this my first...hang in there! In between each week I'll try to tweet, Fbook, etc. in order to cover the social media space as best as I can (shout out to James Wu). And hopefully, come years' end I'll have a series of short documentary film pieces, and other knowledge work, to share.
Please, participate : ) Comment, follow, tweet...whatever ("...opinions matter..." C.Rodriguez).
To the question:
About 5 years ago I set a goal to develop housing & infrastructure, sustainable communities, in the developing world. Over time, this aspiration also became very personal. I hoped to start this work in Africa, but for some reason I was called to Pakistan.
So, here I am, in Lahore. I'm working for an affordable housing developer, Ansaar Management Company (AMC), as a Fellow of the Acumen Fund - one of the most capable, progressive and astute entrepreneurship organizations of this century. Honestly! The driving concepts are all about patient capital & dignity; for example, giving the base of the pyramid access to land ownership, a healthy living environment, education & economic freedom. Acumen Fund is making investments in areas where the traditional players believe that the risks are too great.
Lahore is everything that I didn't imagine: Here are a few big thoughts & observations from the first week:
- I am blown away by the blunt existence of modernity & poverty
- I have the "freedom" to run outside! Jillani/Racecourse Park is beautiful (see pics)
- The relationship structure between classes is ridiculously complex
- It's possible to be a vegetarian but it's time consuming (e.g. multiple washings of fruits & veggies in H2O & Potassium Permanganate) & somewhat difficult to explain to locals
- The air quality is horrendous
- Traffic is chaotic with cars, motorcycles & donkey carts sharing the same lanes
- Defense...first signs of urban planning (I'm sure there's more...)
- Trust is a loose term
- Education, education, education
- My host family, who lives in Gulberg (meaning Flower Park/City in Persian & Punjabi) is lovely - a true blessing