from Char Tosi, Founder, Woman Within International
As a little girl I remember loving the picture of children holding hands around an image of the world. I would try to guess what country they each came from and I always imagined myself joining in with the children so I could be a part of the circle. When I opened my gifts, which were usually a play nurse’s uniform or a medical kit—my dream of being a ‘missionary nurse’ in Africa would form in my head as I put on my little white dress and took out my toy stethoscope. This was going to be my way of joining the circle of diversity.
So the years have gone by and I have become a nurse and my dream of being a missionary turned into birthing, nurturing and sustaining the Woman Within organization for the past 30 years.
As I think of the image of my childhood and the upcoming Holiday season, I see approximately 15,000 women around the world holding hands as we imagine the pink web of yarn connecting us all. I look around this circle of women and I see women from many ethnic groups, women with different sexual preferences, women from many different religious groups, women who struggle with their sexual identity, women who are differently abled, women of all ages and I celebrate our oneness as women and I bless and honor each and every woman who has attended Woman Within as we hold hands and welcome all women to join our circle.
For me the Holiday season is a way to honor the different ways we all celebrate. The birth of Christ is a metaphor for me about new beginnings and I think of the Infant Archetype which carries the belief that we all have the Divine within us and each year are reminded of this through the celebration of Christmas. When I think of Hanukah and the celebration of lights, I am reminded of the spark within each of us that never goes out even when we think we have run out of energy (oil). It reminds me of the Candle ceremony of the weekend when we stand in a circle around the participants and pass the light of our soul from one to the other lighting up the room in a canopy of brillance.
As I reflect on the celebration of Kwanza, which honors the values of ancient African cultures, the 7 principles speak to me about the purpose and values of the Woman Within organization. I invite you to reflect on these values and think about how you can bring them into your life, your family and into our organization. They are:
- Umoja meaning Unity. Action: Building a community that holds together.
- Kujichagulia meaning Self-Determination. Action: Speaking for yourself and making choices that benefit the community.
- Ujima meaning Collective work and Responsibility. Action: Helpng others within the community.
- Ujamaa meaning Cooperative Economics. Action: Supporting businesses that care about the community.
- Nia meaning Sense of Purpose. Action: Setting goals that benefit the community.
- Kuumba meaning Creativity. Action: Making the community better and more beautiful.
- Imani meaning Faith. Action: Believing that a better world can be created for our community now and in the future.
As I reflect on these principles, I substitute the words “Woman Within” for community and pledge to do what I can to live up to these principles.
May you find peace, joy and connection as you celebrate the season in whatever way you find most meaningful.
I’d like to leave you with these words from “We Are the World”:
“There comes a time
When we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
Oh, and it’s time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all
We are the world,
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving
There’s a choice we’re making
We’re saving our own lives
It’s true we’ll make a better day, just you and me.”
With love and Appreciation,