British Methodist leader highlights Rwanda tragedy 15 years on

By staff writers
July 1, 2009

The president of the Methodist Conference in Britain has joined public figures from around the world in lighting a candle for Rwanda on camera, to highlight the consequences of the genocide there.

“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,” the Rev Stephen Poxon says in the film. (

Poxon features alongside Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Conservative leader David Cameron and actors Clive Owen, Sandra Bullock, Sidney Poitier and Scarlett Johansson in the 100-second film.

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

Over the course of 100 days from 7 April 1994, around 1 million children, women and men were slaughtered in Rwanda because they were Tutsis. 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 Poxon.

The victim he refers to, 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 the Methodist president.

“I'd like to invite all the Methodist people here in 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 209), is linked with PHARP Rwanda, an organisation that works for peace building, healing and reconciliation in Rwanda.

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