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Commemoration of SAWA-Australia (SA)’s founder, Matthias Tomczak

Written by Christine Gamble

It is with immense sadness that we share the passing of SAWA-Australia (SA)’s beloved Convenor, Matthias Tomczak. Matthias led the SAWA organisation since 2005 with passion, commitment and wisdom.

As Emeritus Professor of Oceanography; academic and practical researcher, Matthias was at the top of his field on an international scale. He made a significant contribution to science (including climate research) and had a gift in the way he was able to impart his knowledge to students. After retirement, Matthias transferred his skills and focus to building the strong organisation that SAWA-Australia (SA) is now, with the motivation of helping Afghan women and children.

Matthias first came to have compassion for the Afghan women when he attended a Festival of Ideas talk by a member of RAWA (The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan). The speaker had to keep wearing her burka as it was too risky when she returned to Afghanistan if she was photographed in Australia. This activated Matthias’ strong sense of social justice

Matthias made three visits to Afghanistan and came to be loved as a father figure.

“There’s no word that can express how sorry we are to hear about the death of Professor Matthias Tomczak. We were very stunned to hear this news and still can’t believe that it really happened. I would like to speak on behalf of the entire staff of OPAWC and all women of Vocational Training Center in Kabul when I offer you our condolences for the loss of our beloved friend. Prof. Matthias put all his efforts during his lifetime to keep OPAWC running and his death is a huge blow for us. He was truly an upstanding model of humanity who cared deeply for the women of Afghanistan. During this difficult moment, our thoughts and prayers are always with you.”
– Mursal – Administrator for the Organisation of Promoting Afghan Women’s Capabilities (OPAWC) which runs the Vocational Training Centre (VTC).

Latifa Ahmady. Director of OPAWC for many years, took the protocol of the literacy course to the Ministry of Education to obtain approval. She says that “they were very happy and admired our Literacy Course, they said that it is unique in its regularity and discipline. The head of the branch told me ‘we are proud of you people, you are really working for the benefit of forlorn and oppressed people especially women.’” The VTC continues to receive the highest praise. SAWA’s support is now the major contribution to OPAWC’s financial base.

We, the committee, are enormously grateful to Matthias for his 14 years of dedication. By his side was his wife, Chistine Tomczak, who was SAWA Treasurer for the past 7 years. This is a significant body of work that continues to make a huge difference in the lives of many. We are missing our leader and will do our utmost to honour Matthias’ goals and dreams by continuing the successful organisation he made.

Celebrate the life of this great man and help his legacy to continue the profound work he achieved. Support SAWA-Australia with membership, generous donations and sponsorship.

Matthias, the gift of love and care you gave to the world lives on.

Commemoration for Matthias Tomczak