FOUNDERS IN FOCUS
Mark Dombkins, Forever Projects
Empowering Tanzanian Women and Breaking the Poverty Cycle
Mark Dombkins, the Founder of Forever Projects, stands out as a beacon of altruism and social impact. Forever Projects, a non-profit organisation, is on a mission to empower Tanzanian women, enabling them to break free from the shackles of poverty and create a future of self-sustainability. In this, our very first Founders In Focus feature, Mark shares the genesis of Forever Projects, the challenges faced, and the profound impact the organisation has had on the lives of Tanzanian women and their families.
The journey of Forever Projects began with a poignant question asked by Mark and his wife Anna during their time in Tanzania. “I can vividly remember the question we asked ourselves the day we started the fostering process, leaving the baby home with our 3 kids, and broken hearts for the 57 other children who weren’t going to a family,” he reflects. That question was: “What would need to have changed in these kids’ – and our kids’ – biological mother’s story, for them to have never been abandoned in the first place?” This became the catalyst for Forever Projects, driving the couple to partner with a Tanzanian baby home and embark on a began piloting a solution – a yearlong journey to break this cycle of poverty and create a self-sustaining future.
Forever Projects doesn’t merely address the symptoms of poverty; it strives to eliminate the root causes. Mark emphasises the vision of making generosity easy and rewarding for individuals and organisations. By doing so, Forever Projects not only transforms the lives of Tanzanian women and their families but also creates a positive impact on those contributing to the cause.
“Our vision is to solve their problem too… making their generosity easy and rewarding!”
Since its inception, Forever Projects has sent over $1.75 million to Tanzania, facilitating the transformation of more than 1,500 women and over 2,000 babies from poverty to independence. Mark proudly shares, “Knowing that more than 2,000 babies DIDN’T need to enter an orphanage in the first place… that’s what keeps me going when it’s hard.” The organisation’s success is evident in the scalability of its 12-month program, executed at six separate locations across Tanzania.
A typical day for Mark involves a delicate balance between his role at Forever Projects and part-time teaching to support his six children. He describes his day as a mix of connecting with Tanzanian partners, fostering new funders and partnerships in Australia, and securing resources to fuel the mission.
Looking ahead, Forever Projects aims to scale its contribution to the mission. Mark envisions expanding existing programs in Tanzania and establishing connections with impact partners in East Africa and beyond. To achieve this, the organisation has set a target of raising $3.5 million in public donations over the next two years.
Reflecting on triumphs, Mark emphasises the satisfaction of knowing that over 2,000 babies were spared from entering orphanages. Regarding setbacks, he highlights the economic challenges in 2022 and the need for quick decisions to position Forever Projects for success. On setbacks: “Probably the speed at which the economic climate deteriorated in 2022… Despite that, we made some quick decisions that best positioned us to thrive,” he reflects.
One valuable lesson Mark imparts is the recognition of immense value in starting with empathy and acting generously from a place of abundance. Forever Projects believes that this approach can add significant value even in interactions with accomplished individuals and organisations.
“I as a person, and Forever Projects as a startup, have immense value to add… IF we start with empathy, then from a place of abundance, act generously.”
The best advice Mark has received to date revolves around embracing obstacles and setbacks as key ingredients in creating a remarkable life story. He encourages actively seeking challenges, recognising their role in preventing a bland and uneventful journey. “Embrace obstacles, friction, and setbacks as key ingredients in making your life story a remarkable one,” he says.
On community and connection, Mark emphasises the significance of community, acknowledging that being part of the Innovation Bay community shapes his average. He values both benefiting from remarkable individuals and contributing to others’ journeys. Mark joined our Summit members on their recent Expedition to Cape Tribulation in North Queensland, where his highlight was quality time with founders further along in their growth journeys.
“Benefiting from the remarkable people around me… and equally contributing to them is awesome.”
Mark Dombkins, the driving force behind Forever Projects, exemplifies the transformative power of compassion and commitment. Forever Projects is not just an organisation; it’s a movement that aims to break the cycle of poverty and create self-sustaining futures for Tanzanian women and their families. Mark’s journey, marked by profound questions, resilience in the face of challenges, and a commitment to making a positive impact, serves as an inspiring example of how one person can create lasting change. Forever Projects is rewriting the narrative, offering hope, and paving the way for a brighter and more sustainable future.
To make a donation, pledge, or learn more about Forever Projects, visit https://foreverprojects.org/
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