Julius and the Group The Mwelu Foundation is a registered TRUST operating in the Mathare Valley slum of Nairobi. We are working with a group of approximately 40 ambitious, positive and talented young people to help them realise their potential through photography, film production and the building of life skills. The Mwelu Foundation was founded by born-and-raised Mathare resident Julius Mwelu. Julius continues to run the organisation with help from other local people who also are determined to make a positive change within their own community.

Vision and Mission

Our vision is of a peaceful world in which all children realise their full potential in societies that provide hope, opportunity and respect. Our mission is to nurture the talent of children in the poorest communities of Nairobi by providing training in creative arts and essential life skills. By providing children with a voice and promoting education we hope to break the cycle of poverty and violence that exists in our communities.

What is Mathare?

Mathare is a truly desperate place to live. One of the largest slums in the world, hundreds of thousands of people live in an area just a few square kilometres in size. Social problems like ill health, child abuse and alcoholism are evident wherever you look. Infrastructure is poor and amenities are lacking. Every day people die needlessly because of disease, tribal clashes, drugs and domestic violence. Yet life goes on and the people of Mathare make the most of what they have. It is a terrible misconception that places like Mathare lack talent and creativity. For a good introduction to life in Mathare, please watch our short slide-show, People in Mathare, take a look at the photo gallery or zoom in on the map below.

Our Programmes

Our primary activities centre around photography, film production and journalism but also include other creative arts such as poetry and music. We carry out community work in the form of environmental clean-ups and visits to other vulnerable community groups. Recently we have started a livelihoods programme in the areas of reproductive health and HIV/AIDS awareness, computer literacy and language training.


The group’s founder, Julius Mwelu, grew up in Mathare himself. At the age of 12, Julius became involved in the “Shootback” project which taught photographic skills to a group of 31 children in the slum. Through photography Julius has managed to educate countless people around the world about what life in a slum is really like. The skills and experience that he has gained over the years are now being passed down to the next group of potential professional photographers.

Zoom in on Mathare

The map below show an aerial view of Mathare. Please try zooming-in and changing your location using the controls on the map.