In order to fully understand the significance of four young ladies venturing off to Japan to help with the ongoing relief efforts of Women's Federation for World Peace, I would like to share with you a bit of the background of the story.
WFWP is a nongovernmental organization in general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and in association with UN Department of Public Information. As an organization of women, we adhere to the principle that, by working together, taking initiative, and empowering one another across traditional lines of race, culture, and religion, we can create healthy families and resolve the complex problems of our societies and world. We also support women's desires to take leadership in society, and we oppose practices in which women are oppressed or discriminated against.
Regarding the latter area, we have been attending since the beginning of last year to a problem in Japan in which families refuse to accept the decision of an adult family member to adopt a different religion. We have felt the pain of our sisters in Japan who have been victims of kidnapping, secret confinement, and the horror of both physical and psychological coercion resulting from their decision to join faiths different from that of their family. Therefore, we planned and prepared for a public rally in front of the White House on March 22 of this year in order to educate the American public and leadership about this hidden issue in Japan.
Yet, on March 11, the terrible tragedy of the earthquake and tsunami occurred, which went straight to our hearts. Watching the horrific images on television of homes being destroyed and people dying, we immediately canceled the rally and shifted our entire focus to supporting Japan through prayers and strategizing how best to help. Our WFWP chapters throughout the country organized Japan relief fundraisers, and the revenue was sent straight to Japan. We also committed from the start to send teams of women to Japan to join the suffering Japanese in their efforts to clean up the rubble of their broken homes and reestablish their lives.
When WFWP's call went out in late May for volunteers to go to Japan, I was very moved when so many women, young and more seasoned, responded to go. Some were even ready to put their jobs on hold to be able to go over there and help. So on July 1, four young ladies, all in their 20s--ChunMi Araki, Teresa Blount, Manasa Kanithi, and Miwa Yokoyama--arrived in Tokyo, where Mr. Luke Higuchi of the human rights organization Survivors Against Forced Exit (SAFE) received them and connected them with the Unification Church relief team.
A few days later, we received their first reports and diary entries, in which they expressed their shock upon seeing with their own eyes the devastation caused by the tsunami, the terrible stench and dust they encountered, which would be their daily environment for their cleanup work under the beating heat of the sun.
Yet they reported that their spirits were high and that the Japanese people responded with so much love and gratitude!
We hope as you read their stories you will likewise be touched and transformed as were these young ladies. We will continue to send women from the United States to Japan and support the Japanese people, since we do believe in and live by the motto, "Living by the Logic of Love."
At the same time, WFWP USA is also committed to continuously give women in Japan a voice--until the religious rights issue is resolved and families are no longer torn apart based on a family member's choice of faith.
President, Women's Federation for World Peace USA
Vice-President WFWP International
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