AN inspirational humanitarian aid worker is coming to Redditch this weekend to mark National Holocaust Memorial Day.
Former head of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency International in Rwanda and author of the book “I’m not leaving”, Carl Wilkens, will be stopping by to join youth groups, organisations and the public as they take part in Redditch’s Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) event on January 27.
The event next Saturday will start at 10.30am from the Council Chamber at the Town Hall. There will be a procession to the memorial on Church Green where a few words will be spoken in memory of those who were lost to the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. It will then continue on through the Kingfisher Centre and at the Ecumenical Centre at 11am.
There will be music from local youngsters to celebrate overcoming adversity, including the Kerala Community Association, the Polish School and Redditch Community Gospel Choir. There will also be readings based on Holocaust and genocide survivors’ experiences, before finishing with a talk from speaker Carl Wilkens.
In 1994, against huge odds, Carl helped saved hundreds of Tutsis during the genocide in Rwanda.
As a humanitarian aid worker Carl moved his young family to Rwanda in the Spring of 1990. In 1994 when extremists took over the government and started ordering ordinary citizens to kill the “enemy”—their Tutsi neighbours—all foreign embassies evacuated their respective citizens.
Carl was the only American who stayed through the genocide and by negotiating with key militia figures, he managed to get supplies of water and food through to people in dire need.
Carl will be sharing stories of his experiences in Rwanda during the “100 day” Genocide of 1994. His harrowing yet hopeful journey weaves together stories of tremendous risk and fierce compassion, in the midst of the senseless slaughtering of 800,000 innocent people.
Coun Bill Hartnett, Leader of the Council, said: “Every year we set aside time to remember and think about the Holocaust as well as subsequent genocides in Rwanda, Darfur, Bosnia and Cambodia.
“We are proud to receive Carl Wilkens as our speaker this year and I think discussing his story as an aid worker and the genocide in Rwanda will remind us that so many lessons have unfortunately not been learnt since the terrible events of the Second World War and the Holocaust.
“We all have a responsibility to reflect on why such things are allowed to take place despite what history tells us.”
HMD takes place on January 27 each year for people to remember the millions who have been murdered or whose lives have been changed beyond recognition during the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.