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Mijina McDowell wins the 2012 Clear Complexions Woman of Spirit award.

By johnboy 3 November 2012 0

mike and mijina

This just in from Lifeline:

Lifeline Canberra today announced South Korean-born cancer survivor and ACT resident Mijina (pronounced Mij-ina) McDowell as the 2012 Clear Complexions Woman of Spirit at their annual awards ceremony.

Now in its seventh year, the award recognises women from the ACT and region who have overcome adversity in their lives, given back to the community and now inspire others. The 13 individual nominees and their nominators attended the luncheon and awards function at the historic Canberra Hyatt Hotel along with staff and ‘Friends’ of Lifeline Canberra.

The luncheon was hosted by Natalie Forrest (Prime7) and her fellow selection committee members, including local business women; Suzie Hoitink (Clear Complexions), Carrie Graf (Canberra Capitals), Diane Kargas (Common Ground) and Pauline Thorneloe (Lifeline Canberra, President).

Presented by the 2011 Woman of Spirit, Kara Potter, Ms McDowell was delighted to receive the recognition for what she has been through, overcome and is now doing in the community however, was quick to pay tribute to the other worthy women in the room.

“All the women here today are so brave and have such determination, I am very proud to receive this award.”

“I am overwhelmed to receive this award, thank you to Lifeline Canberra, the selection committee and all the local businesses that have donated gifts,” said Ms McDowell.

The formal proceedings saw each nominee called forward and presented with certificate and small gift on behalf of Lifeline Canberra and encouraged to continue their amazing work in the community.

Speaking at the function, committee member Ms Carrie Graf said that deciding on the successful nominee was a very challenging and tough decision.

“I have had to make some tough team and squad selection decisions in my career as a basketball coach but none really compare to this.”

“While there had to be one major award nominee chosen, we (the selection committee) also wanted to recognise that each of the women put forward are remarkable in their own right and as such ensured their determination was also acknowledged at the event.”

Ms McDowell received a trophy to mark the award and an array of gifts donated by the local business community including a $1000 voucher to Clear Complexions and a $600 pearl necklace donated by Jane Brown. Ms McDowell will also have the opportunity to be an ambassador for Lifeline Canberra over the next 12 months which would include a range of speaking engagements and professional development opportunities.

Mijina McDowall Nomination Summary
Born and raised in South Korea, Mijina was abandoned by her parents at the age of 8 in order to give her brother a better life. She spent the next five years virtually homeless as she was passed from relative to relative. During this time she suffered unspeakable physical and emotional abuse while exploited as a source of child labour.

At the age of 13 Mijina learnt to support herself by making artwork and operating a small art gallery. At the age of 25 her first son was born and soon after they migrated to Australia despite not knowing anyone or speaking any English. Here she gave birth to two more sons and suffered horrific domestic violence which caused irreparable damage to her spine, neck and teeth. Soon after escaping this terrible situation, Mijina was diagnosed with a brain tumour. While fighting cancer, Mijina enrolled to study counselling, outreach and theology, becoming a Christian missionary to Canberra.

Mijina qualified as a pastor earlier this year. Mijina has been taking care of her three sons as a single mother and yet chooses to use her disability pension to fund her street church BBQ. Here she began alone providing a source of food for the homeless, distributing home-cooked curry, cutting hair and sometimes even giving out her own household items including clothing to those in need. Mijina doesn’t like to look at it as ‘feeding’ people but rather as ‘serving’ them. Now many of those she serves and a network of volunteers regularly assist her.

Regardless of who shows up, you can find Mijina there every Sunday, rain, hail or shine.

Summaries of all nominations received are available on our website at,

The team at Lifeline Canberra would like to wish both the Tradies Canberra Capitals and the Rolfe Renault Canberra Cavalry all the best with their respective fixtures this evening.

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