Sunday, December 27, 2009

Searching for hope...

Two nights after the blasts at Moon Market in Lahore I traveled to Karachi for the Acumen Fund PK Community & Investor Gathering. The timing was perfect because I was consumed by the attacks in Lahore yet couldn’t really find an outlet for my thoughts, which were a tangled web of confusion, stress, curiosity and antagonism towards that which attempts to disrupt any semblance of peace.

I found hope in the AFPK CIG. Individuals from a slew of industries came together to learn about and support entrepreneurial efforts and thinking, related to business solutions for the poor. It seems as though, qualified by my conversations with friends & colleagues in PK & readings, that given the current socio-political environment the time to actively support strong leadership & ingenuity is now; waiting another day may be a day too late.

A nod to the PK Fellows, Asim & Zahoor, for their friendship, inspiring words during the AFPK CIG Fellows presentation and for being the first to really listen to me about my thoughts per the ongoing deadly events throughout cities in PK – they put in all in perspective.

One day I hope to share an opinion (link to an interesting Op – “[PK] A Decade of Living Dangerously”) about all that I am learning, experiencing, and feeling about PK; to the end that at least one person in PK and another in some other location in the world, think, just for a moment, a little differently about life’s circumstances, acknowledge & appreciate the world views of others and maybe even decide to do something that might bring peace, justice and multifaceted prosperity to themselves and others. Just cuz it’s (pick your “it”) profoundly complicated doesn’t mean it’s impossible to change.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Interim Post: The Day After...

The day after the deadly bomb blasts in the words of many Pakistanis " goes on..." I'll revisit this comment, my thoughts about the tragic event in Moon Market and other experiences & thoughts in Week 2 and 3 blog posts.

With great love for life, Sarah.

Photo: Working on site w/staff

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What am I doing in Lahore?! Week 1.


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
On to Week 2 (& the start of work)!