29 June 2009

Methodist President marks 15th anniversary of Rwandan genocide

Revd Stephen Poxon, President of the Methodist Conference, has joined public figures from around the world in lighting a candle for Rwanda on camera (www.candlesforrwanda.org/view/52/stephen-poxon).

'Candles for Rwanda' is global initiative marking the 15th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide and helping destitute survivors who still suffer from its consequences 15 years on.

"I want to light a candle of hope, that it may burn brightly for all those Rwandan people who are trying to rebuild their lives," Stephen says in the film.

Stephen features alongside Desmond Tutu, David Cameron, Clive Owen, Sandra Bullock, Sidney Poitier and Scarlett Johansson in the 100-second film.

Over the course of 100 days from 7 April 1994, around 1 million children, women and men were slaughtered in Rwanda because they were Tutsi. Hutus opposed to the onslaught were also killed. Today, Rwanda is rebuilding and its economy is growing. But thousands of survivors whose homes, means of living, loved ones and communities were taken away from them still suffer the material consequences of the genocide.

"A hundred days of genocide will take many generations to know true healing. And today the stories are still coming out, like the story of Anne-Marie," says Stephen.

Anne-Marie was widowed, gang-raped and left HIV-positive, her baby killed in her arms during the genocide. Thanks to a little support, today she is able to work and provide a home for her surviving son, Patrick.

"Fifteen years ago the world turned its back on Rwanda, and today, as we light candles of hope, it's an opportunity for the world to turn its face towards Rwanda," says Stephen. "I'd like to invite all the Methodist people here in Great Britain to light a candle, a candle of hope for Rwanda, that in this small way a light may shine in the darkness."

The Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury Methodist District, one of the host districts for this year's Methodist Conference (2-9 July), is linked with PHARP Rwanda, an organisation that works for peace building, healing and reconciliation in Rwanda. For more information, visit www.pharp.org.

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