Editorial Comment: This month, February, the Logic of Love News presents an article about Mrs. Pat Fleischman, Chairwoman of the San Francisco Bay Chapter of WFWP USA. To give you a little background information, Pat went to Senegal, Africa as a missionary of the Unification Movement in 1975. Her husband joined her in 1982 and they had four of their five sons while living in Senegal. In 1992, she and her husband, Justin, returned to his hometown in Marin County, just north of San Francisco.
At the time WFWP was inaugurated, she had five young boys to take care of and participated in WFWP activities as much as she could. Then in 2001, she was recommended by some of the local WFWP members to become the chairwoman for the San Francisco Bay Chapter. She has been the chairwoman ever since.
For quite a long time I struggled to understand what WFWP really is. Being a very practical person I was always looking for some very concrete explanation. My understanding has grown slowly as well as a feeling of connection with Mother Moon. These days, I can understand more deeply her heart behind WFWP. There is an urgent need for us to become women who can bring and embody true parental love in dealing with the problems in our communities and to find other women to work with us. I’m not always confident or sure how to do all that myself, but I see in the younger women who joined our planning committee a greater ability to see the ways to reach out and connect with people. I really enjoy working together with the women on our committee.
In 2001, I was feeling that I wanted to get involved in some public activity and was wondering if I could help out with WFWP. I was very surprised when I was asked to be chairwoman, but decided to give it a try. Mrs. Kikuno Allen, who had a lot of experience with WFWP, was the assistant chairwoman, which made it possible. It was very challenging at times and we met several limitations but I really enjoyed working with Kikuno. Gradually we formed a team and over the years we did many kinds of activities.
We had monthly meetings for many years, often focused on different themes. For a while we did a “Women of Faith” series where we invited women of different faiths to come and share their faith and story. We also did a “Women of Destiny” series where we invited women who were doing some meaningful project of service to speak. For example, in April 2009 a woman from Kenya, who was helping girls in Kenya go to school, came and spoke to us about her project. Another time, Ms. Poppy Richie spoke about her trip to Zambia.
The Schools of Africa Benefit has been our most consistent and biggest project over the years. Tomiko Nojima was part of our planning committee and I learned so much from her about how to organize an event and how to network with other organizations. We really had a lot of fun doing these events even though they involved so much work. It was a great feeling to work so hard and then see a wonderful result. Because of the time I spent in Africa, I have a deep love for the people there, so it’s just natural to do events to support the Schools of Africa.
In 2008, our chapter received the Global Citizen’s Award from the United Nations Association, East Bay Chapter (UNA USA East Bay Chapter, http://www.unausaeastbay.org/) for our work with the Schools of Africa. It is an award they give out once a year.
One very memorable event for me was an Interfaith Bridge of Peace Ceremony that we held in 2006. The speakers, Fawzia Athemade and Dr. Katrin Michael, were originally from the Middle East. WFWP member Grazyna Hagen had become good friends with them while living in the Washington, D.C. area. They flew out to California to visit Grazyna and to participate in our event. This was the first time we held such a big event renting a large room in a modest local hotel. It was rather scary for me to make such a big commitment because I felt unsure whether many people would come. Actually around 70 people came and it was quite successful. I learned that I needed to have the faith to take risks.
In November 2008 a Native American medicine woman, Charlie Toledo, spoke at our monthly meeting about the significance of the year 2012 in the spiritual beliefs of native people from North and South America. This was also a very memorable event because of the very profound spirituality of Charlie. She presented a view of the world and history that was very unique and connected to the Mayan calendar. It was fascinating.
In June of 2009 we had a meeting featuring Dr. Rita Maran who is a professor at University of California Berkeley. She spoke on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN. Her talk was followed by a Hindu spiritual leader, Prabha Duneja, who spoke about how to create peace in the world by having peace in ourselves. After the meeting we had a reception and luncheon featuring different kinds of sushi. About 35 people attended. I felt this was such a wonderful event because the two speakers represented very different approaches to “human rights”. Dr, Maran was very intellectual and rational talking about the UN and human rights and value from a political viewpoint. Prabha Duneja presented a very spiritual, loving way of elevating human rights. Both ways are important - one external and the other internal.
From September 2011 to February 2013, we had a bi-monthly program that was planned by three young women which they called Life Spa. They wanted to offer programs that would help women deal with the pressures and stresses of daily life. They did an excellent job and gave very professional presentations. It was really inspiring. However, when one of them became pregnant and could no longer participate, the project was put on hold.
Reflecting on the things we’ve done in the past and thinking of how we can move forward from now, I feel that women have so much richness of heart that is expressed in infinite, wonderful ways. I feel my role or calling is to help empower women to use their special qualities to heal our families and communities.