Methodist President marks 15th anniversary of Rwandan genocide

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

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

"I want to light a candle of hope, that it may burn brightly forall 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 the100-second film.

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

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

Anne-Marie was widowed, gang-raped and left HIV-positive, her babykilled 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 toturn its face towards Rwanda," says Stephen. "I'd like to inviteall the Methodist people here in Great Britain to light a candle, acandle of hope for Rwanda, that in this small way a light may shinein the darkness."

The Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury Methodist District, one of thehost districts for this year's Methodist Conference (2-9 July), islinked with PHARP Rwanda, an organisation that works for peacebuilding, healing and reconciliation in Rwanda. For moreinformation, visit www.pharp.org.