Creating change

Mark Dombkins and Andrew Wade are creating change that matters. Here’s how.

Mark Dombkins and his wife Anna had just adopted three children in Tanzania. As Mark walked out of the baby home and passed by other children who wouldn’t be coming home with him, he asked himself, what needs to change?

“Adopting our three children was such a beautiful moment for our family, and one that I’ll never forget, but there were hundreds of thousands of other children across the country that weren’t going to a family that day,” explains Mark.

“We knew something needed to change in these children’s biological mothers’ stories for them to not have been separated in the first place.”

It was this experience that led Mark and Anna to create Forever Projects, a charity that helps break the cycle of poverty for women in Tanzania and create a self-sustaining future – a future where poverty isn’t a reason for children to be abandoned and families can stay together.


From UOW to Forever Projects

When Mark started his degree at UOW, he thought he would enter a career in accounting or finance but when he had the opportunity to tutor nursing students in statistics, he discovered his love of teaching.

“It was a real transformational experience,” Mark explains. “I really enjoyed creating a learning environment for the students and I loved maths so I thought, what would it look like if they intersected? So, after graduating I became a maths teacher.

It was teaching that brought Mark, Anna, and their two small children to Tanzania in 2010. He worked at an international school on the southern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.

When they moved back to Australia, now as a family of eight, Mark and Anna started raising funds for Forever Projects. They worked with the local partners who they adopted their children through to create a program where they could work ahead of the poverty cycle and catch women in crisis.

“The funds raised from Forever Projects go to local teams in Tanzania who work with women through a 12-month program that starts with nutrition for malnourished infants and crisis support. Then the teams help women start and grow a small business, creating income so that they can give their children a home. Within 12 months, they’ve gone from being in the poverty cycle to being empowered and independent,” says Mark.


What’s in your hands

“Mark at Forever Projects often uses the phrase, what’s in your hands,” says Andrew Wade, UOW graduate (Bachelor of Engineering, Telecommunications Engineering) and Chief Operating Officer at trading firm, Tibra Capital.

Andrew and Mark studied at UOW at the same time and formed a life-long friendship. When Andrew learned about Forever Projects and its mission, he discovered what was in his hands.

In 2018, Andrew set out to raise funds for Forever Projects by climbing the Illawarra escarpment trek, Sublime Point, 20 times in one week – the equivalent of summitting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

“It ended up being a really good amount of strain for a week. It was enough to make people know you were serious because it hurt, but they also were quite inspired because they thought, you know what, I could do that too.”

Staff from Tibra Capital and the company’s philanthropic arm, the Tibra Foundation, also got behind Andrew’s fundraiser.

“In the first year, generous supporters backed me for about $14,000 and the Tibra Foundation was able to come to the party and double that. So, we raised almost $30,000 in the first year,” says Andrew.

Mark says that when others heard about Andrew’s fundraiser, they wanted to join in and set their own challenge to raise money.

“Andrew’s idea evolved from just his individual fundraiser to ‘Austimanjaro’, which was everyone in Austinmer trekking Sublime Point. But then people everywhere across New South Wales wanted to get involved,” explains Mark.

“It’s such a fun way to connect with purpose, get moving, invest in your own physical and mental health, but also do it in a way that creates good for other people,” he adds.

Forever Projects grew Andrew’s fundraiser into a global campaign called What’s Your Kilimanjaro. During the month of October, people are invited to conquer their own Kilimanjaro by setting a physical challenge.

“People can choose any physical challenge they like that’s the equivalent to hiking or walking around Mount Kilimanjaro. Some people run 62 kilometres in a week or cycle 20 kilometres in a month or do 6000 push ups – all kinds of crazy stuff,” says Mark.

The feeling of giving

In addition to fundraising for Forever Projects, Andrew also supports several philanthropic initiatives such as the Tibra Foundation Chair and Tibra Foundation Scholarship in Mathematics at UOW.

“One of the core objectives for the Foundation is advancing mathematical sciences in Australia, and we’ve long been partners with UOW through internships. We’ve hired a lot of graduates and we have a great relationship. Most recently we’ve helped sponsor the Chair of Mathematics position and we’re really excited that Professor Singh has accepted that and is coming to Australia from Cambridge. It’s a massive thing for us – we really care about this.

“It’s exciting for us to have an institution like UOW that can be pumping out world class talent. Bringing in other world-class academics to help nurture that talent is just a great synergy for us,” says Andrew.

Andrew shares how it makes him feel to give to important causes.

“It feels great to give back. Mark’s always thanking me for the contributions I've made for Forever Projects, but equally, I think that's led to many great rich experiences for me. It maybe cost me a bit of time and effort, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.”



Mark Dombkins

Bachelor of Mathematics and Finance


Andrew Wade

Bachelor of Engineering, Telecommunications Engineering

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