Tristan Launches His Blog

January 8, 2009

Hello All,

It has been a busy new year for me so far but I feel that I am finally going through the last steps before I head out for Uganda.  I spent the holidays visiting with friends and family in Oregon and managed to squeeze some ski days in between turkey dinners, a fix I needed before I head to an equatorial climate!

For those of you who do not know, I have been accepted to participate in an  internship through the Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD).  This internship will have me living in Jinja, Uganda for six months to one year (depending on project success and finances) working with the Ugandan community based organization First African Bicycle Information and Organization Workshop (FABIO).  FABIO is a local organization based in Jinja that focuses on the development of sustainable non-motorized transportation businesses.  It is FSD’s role to place me with an organization, a host family, and provide several on site professionals who will meet with me to organize and plan my projects.  The on site support with include micro-loan managment, grant-writing, economic and development advice, and counsel on the local culture.  It will be my role to use this valuable training to facilitate and develop projects to meet the goals of FABIO.

I chose this internship because the formula used by FSD is, to the best of my knowledge, the most effective form of international development.  It will give me a crash course in international development offering me tutoring along the way.  It is also well designed in that FSD does not come in and design projects that it feels will be successful, rather it places interns in community based organization that will best recognize areas needing work.  It follows the guidelines of what some call “local-global” development, or development that focuses on international participation towards the goals of a local community.  By investing in the needs and desires of the local people in an underdeveloped region, you not only are helping them raise their standard of living but you are also providing  the maximum probability of success for your investment.  Your investment will likely succeed because the project you are investing in is something the local people want to succeed.

I will not be able to describe the work I will be doing with FABIO in greater detail until I have arrived in Uganda and spent time with FABIO to recognize  projects they specifically want me to work on.  That being said, it is likely I will be working in one of the three realms FABIO focuses on: Networking and Advocacy, Capacity Building of Communities, and Community Education and Empowerment.

I would like to thank all of my sponsors again.  Without your generous donations, I would never have made this opportunity possible.

Jan and Lisa Allen

Timothy and Anne Allen

Thaddeus Allen

Zina Allen

Dan and Wanda Arp

Tom and Debbie Birdseye

Marv and Fran Buchanan

Nan and Jay Chaney

Lou and Rita Graving

Angie Grindon

Molly and Kevin Haggerty

Judy Hampe

Brent Hawley

Timothy and Margaret Hower

Jason and Kelly Hower

Bob and Sue Johnson

Frances Murray

Julie Murray

Kevin and Suzanne Murray

Chi Chi Murray

Myrt Nussbaumer

John and Cindy Naismith

Lorr and Angela Quinn

Tim and Lori Richer

Pete and Cook Rodgers

Ariel Saari

Denny and Mary-Lib Sovik

Karl Thomas

I would also like to thank my beautiful girlfriend Kelly.  She has given me unyielding support over the past year and a half and I could not ask for a better friend and companion.  We should all wish her luck as she is off on her own adventure to Thailand to study abroad for six months.  In addition to being so awesome, she and her housemates Kelsie, Katie and Whitney put up with me staying with them this past fall in order to save up money for my trip.  Thanks girls!!

I also have to acknowledge both my parents, my friend Lewis Hower, and Professor Susan Costanzo for their good advice and constant encouragement.  I should be home for the big day Lew, I am looking into flying directly to Texas to save another flight.

With all this being said, I am truly grateful for all the support, financial and otherwise, you all have given me.  While I have sold my car and pawned off ski gear, I would not have been able to financially afford a venture like this without the aid of friends and family.  THANK YOU!!!

While I do not know specific projects I will be working on, I have spend some time persuing possible leads for projects.  First, I met with a local Bellinghamster named Paul Barkley.  Paul is on the board of Slum Doctors, a Bellingham NGO, and has spend much time in Uganda organizing bicycle programs and events.  He gave me valuable insight into what to expect working on bike projects in Uganda as well as a few connections of men in Uganda who own bike shops and welding rigs.  Second, I met with a WWU professor named Jason Morris.  Jason has traveled to Uganda to work with a group of Boda-Boda (bicycle taxi/cargo drivers) to build the ideal model of bicycle both human and non-human cargo.  He developed a design and built a proto-type and is looking for the next step: production.  While I do not know if this will be something FABIO is interested in, I think there might be a positive move by connection Jason’s model with Paul’s connections to bike shops and welders.  With this going, maybe a Ugandan bicycle production company could get of the ground building Jason’s bike for Ugandan use.

Wheeew!  I really got going on that one!  Hopefully you all made it through the whole shpeel.  Please anyone contact me at with any questions/comments/ideas.  You’ll hear from me next from Uganda!