Donna McDermid grew up in the Canberra/Sydney region and as a 20 year old joined YWAM in Goulburn NSW. Donna had a passion to do mercy ministry work in Asia. After completing her training and participating in evangelism teams around NSW, Qld and Fiji Donna married Merv and together they pioneered a new training centre in Brisbane Qld.
Several years later they left Brisbane with their first baby daughter (Sarah) to start a new YWAM centre in Mumbai (Bombay) India. Being a new mother in a very needy city of 14 million people proved to be very challenging but Donna very quickly won the hearts of many young locals who to this day remember her as a woman with a passion for God and a deep affection for the needy. She is also remembered for very effective teaching and counseling ministry. Whist in Mumbai Donna was adopted by the local people as being a “mother in the faith”.
Along with her involvement in the training of young Indians to reach out to others Donna herself spent time praying and reaching out to the poorest women in what then was some of the neediest slums in Asia that also included some of the largest brothels in the city. After one such event of many hours praying for prostitutes in their work place, the issue of gender injustice (to women) and human trafficking became another layer of overwhelming concern beyond raw poverty, since many such prostitutes were there as slaves or rejects from families.
Unfortunately Donna’s health deteriorated after 4 years of work in Mumbai area and was shortly after diagnosed with a serious liver disease that was to finally claim her life.
While her dream of returning to Asia was never realized her character and her life remained a beacon of grace and hope to women of all cultures. Those of us who loved Donna have no doubt that the using of her name to highlight issues of extreme gender injustice would fit perfectly with her heart’s desire and future hopes.
May many others take her place in helping multitudes of women find freedom and their inheritance under the grace of our loving Creator.
From a Daughter’s Perspective
My mother always had my awe and respect. As a child I adored her loving attention, as a teenager I respected her ability to push me to achieve, encourage me to have fun and guide me through the tricky awkwardness of growing up. But as a young woman I am finding that it is only now I truly realise that Donna McDermid was more than my amazing mother, she was a woman who was one of a kind.
Mum believed in many things, that faith was paramount, family was vital, friendships were to be cherished, punishment should fit a crime, children should be loved, and that we should do our bit to preserve the environment. However above these and more, there was one thing that she was truly passionate about and that was the issue of gender injustice, particularly child prostitution. The time we spent in South East Asia exposed us to the reality of life for women around the world and it moved Mum to tears, even years later, to tell of the injustice she witnessed there and the heartbreak of seeing women and children, enslaved in an industry driven by greed and self gratification with no thought to the irreparable damage being wrought upon the most vulnerable people in society.
People may believe that this is not their problem, that it is too far removed from them to be of concern and its certainly not comfortable dinner conversation. Mum would’ve fiercely opposed that idea as she believed that injustice, particularly of this kind of wicked nature, should be everyone’s problem and should be advocated against no matter how uncomfortable it was to talk about.
Her illness may have prevented her actively working against these injustices but she has left her legacy strongly printed on the hearts of all of her family and friends. Mum would have been embarrassed at the attention, I don’t think she ever realised how much those around her respected and loved her for her passion for those hurting and abused in our world.
So we have been moved to use this Fund to do what we can to make a difference, however great or small, in the memory of a woman who continually challenged us to not only recognise injustice but to actively fight against it.