News

Julius Mwelu carries London 2012 Olympic torch in England

Julius Mwelu travelled to London In July to carry the Olympic torch in the run-up to the Olympic games. Julius was selected because of his work with the Mwelu Foundation in Mathare. The TV station GBS Kenya documented Julius trip before he set off and after he returned. You can watch the features again below.

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International Women’s Day matatu exhibition

As part of International Women’s Day the Mwelu Foundation recently displayed its photos in a unique exhibition. Photographs of women from Mathare taken by members of the Foundation were displayed on the back on Nairobi’s matatus (minibuses) along with messages related to International Women’s Day. A short feature on the making of the exhibition is shown below.

The exhibition was kindly supported by the Spanish Embassy in Nairobi.

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Pre-order the Mwelu Foundation book “Julius Mwelu & the Mwelu Foundation” from Amazon today!

To be published on 29th May the 148-page photo-book supported by Africalia features photos and stories from the children of the Mwelu Foundation. Please support our work by purchasing a copy of this book from Amazon!

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The Disintegration of the Matatus – Julius Mwelu reports for Magnum Foundation

On behalf of the Magnum Foundation Julius Mwelu spoke with Joan Clos, Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) on the planned phrasing out of matatus in Nairobi, Kenya. Mwelu and Clos considered the costs and advantages of phasing out matatus.

The full article includes photos taken by Julius.

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Mwelu Foundation film production programme featured on NTV Kenya

The Mwelu Foundation’s film production programme was recently featured on NTV Kenya.

Reporter, Rose Wangui, learnt how children in Mathare are telling the story of their lives through film production. She met with actress Leila Dayan, photographer Peter Gikonyo, editor Barbara Wagio and spoke to Alex Kamweru, Programme Coordinator of the Mwelu Foundation.

You can watch the feature again below.

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Four Mwelu Foundation members win awards in Connect4Climate competition

Four Mwelu Foundation members have won awards in the Connect4Climate photography and video competition which aims to raise awareness about climate change issues around the world, with an initial focus on Africa. 700 submissions were received from young people from every African country.

The C4C winners were officially announced and exhibited at the Africa Pavilion on December 5, 2011 during the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa.

UPDATE! Nairobi, 6th March 2012

World Bank Kenya Country Director Johannes Zutt presents Simon Onyango and Stephen Ochieng from Mwelu Foundation with the first prize award, a solar back-pack and digital camera. Simon and Stephen won first prize in the video category 18-24 age group in the Connect for Climate Photo and Video Competition organized by the World Bank Head Office in Washington DC.

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Official opening of Mwelu Foundation library

The Mwelu Foundation Library was officially opened on the 27th April 2011. The launch event was attended by friends and supporters including Caroline Liem from the Wings of Support Foundation who cut the ceremonial ribbon to officially open the library. Without the help of the Wings of Support Foundation and Africalia Belgium the establishment of the Library would not have been possible.

The library has already become an important resource for the young people of Mathare, providing a place for students to study after school and a resource for schools themselves to utilise during the day.

News of the library was also included in the Wings of Support Newsletter (language: Dutch).

For more information, see the library page.

Caroline Liem opens the Mwelu Foundation library

Caroline Liem from the Wings of Support Foundation opens the Mwelu Foundation library

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Mwelu Foundation to exhibit photos at UN-HABITAT’s Governing Council

This week, an exhibition of Mwelu Foundation photographs will be on show at the 23rd Session of UN-HABITAT’s Governing Council in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Governing Council meets every two years to examine UN-HABITAT’s work and relationships with its partners. It is a high-level forum of governments at the ministerial level during which policy guidelines and the organization’s budget are established for the next two-year period.

This year the theme of the Governing Council is sustainable urban development through expanding equitable access to land, housing, basic services and infrastructure.

Above: Ray, James, Elijah and Simon at the exhibition at the UN in Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya.

The Mwelu Foundation team members pose for the photo with Mr. Ramsey Tokunbo Noauh, Nigerian Nollywood Actor, during the GC 23 in Nairobi, Kenya 2011

The Mwelu Foundation team members pose for the photo with Mr. Ramsey Tokunbo Noauh, Nigerian Nollywood Actor, during the GC 23 in Nairobi, Kenya 2011

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Magnum Foundation awards Julius Mwelu with Emergency Fund grant

Julius Mwelu has been awarded a grant from the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund to support his continued work as a photographer in Kenya. The Fund supports experienced independent photographers working to document critical issues that have been overlooked or under-represented by mainstream media.

A group of 10 photography professionals nominated 100 photographers to submit proposals. The recipients were selected—based on the strength of their work and the importance of the issues they proposed to address—by an independent Editorial Board comprised of: Bob Dannin, former editorial director of Magnum Photos and professor of history at Suffolk University, renowned author Philip Gourevitch and Marc Kusnetz, former senior producer for NBC News and consultant for Human Rights First.

More information on the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund.

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New Mwelu Foundation library opens!

The Mwelu Foundation is proud to announce the opening of our new library. The library provides a space where our members can focus on studying in preparation for their academic exams – the results of which will certainly shape their futures.

Most students in Mathare do not have a safe, quiet place to study after normal school hours. Many students also have limited or no access to academic materials. In 2010, the Mwelu Foundation had 14 members sitting their final national exams. Faced with this, we have set up a library next door to our office on the edge of Mathare. The library is well stocked with relevant academic books, tables, desks and lighting.

The library has been made possible by the generous support of the Wings of Support Foundation and Africalia Belgium.

Books in the Mwelu Foundation library Seating in the Mwelu Foundation library Posters in the Mwelu Foundation library

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Shootback photos displayed at Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC

As part of Foto Week DC 2010, photographs from the Shootback project have been exhibited at the prestigious Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC. Photographs were projected onto the outside of the building and inside the gallery on the opening night on 5th November 2010 and in various other locations throughout Washington during the week-long photography festival. The exhibition closed with night projections on the exterior of the House of Sweden, along the Potomac River.

At the age of 12, Julius Mwelu – Mwelu Foundation founder – became involved in the Shootback project which taught photographic skills to a group of 31 children in the Mathare slums. This was Julius’s first experience with photography. Several of Julius’s Shootback photos were featured in the Foto Week DC 2010 exhibition as well as a selection of his award-winning photographs from his photo reportage on the post-election violence in Kenya.

View from Outside, Shootback at Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DCView inside, Shootback at Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC

Shootback Exhibition at Foto Week DC 2010 at Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC

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Mwelu Foundation receives award at World Habitat Day 2010

The Mwelu Foundation has been highlighted by UN Habitat as an example of good practice at World Habitat Day 2010.

The Global Observance of World Habitat Day this year was held at the Shanghai World Expo 2010, under the theme “Better city, better life”.

Read more.

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Elijah Mumo selected to participate in FilmAfrica training workshop

Elijah Mumo has been selected to participate in FilmAfrica‘s first training workshop in Nairobi.

The workshop participants will be guided and taught in developing and realising their visions and will be supported in attracting attention to their films not only in Africa, but also internationally. Participants will be taught to produce films independently and enhance their cinematographic and creative know-how.

The FilmAfrica training workshop is a partnership project between On Fine Day Films, Ginger Ink and DW-Akademie.

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Kenyan International Film Festival

Leila Dayan and Simon Onyango at the Kenyan International Film Festival

The Mwelu Foundation have had three films accepted into the Kenyan International Film Festival (KIFF). Ghetto Girl, Flying Toilet and Inevitable Pain will be shown along side other entries in various locations in Nairobi.

We were invited together with other film makers participating in the festival for the official launch yesterday which was officiated by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka. The official programme of viewings is as follows:

  • 21 October 2009 17:30 Ghetto Girl to be screened at Alliance Francaise
  • 22 October 2009 14:20 Flying Toilet to be screened at Silver Bird Cinema Westgate
  • 30 October 2009 12:15 Inevitable Pain to be screened at Silver Bird Cinema Westgate

From 14:00 on Sunday 25th October 2009 we will be showcasing our films and our organisation at the Alliance Francaise. We are looking forward to seeing our family, friends, partners and well wishers. Please come along and see the Mwelu Foundation members share their stories of film making in Mathare.

Under Siege viewing at the Kenyan International Film FestivalEric Kioko at the Kenyan International Film Festival

Top: Leila Dayan and Simon Onyango talk about the film Ghetto Girl.
Above-left: The viewing of Under Siege.
Above-right: Eric Kioko, who’s story is told in Under Siege, addresses the audience at KIFF.

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“Dear Mr. President”

Wanja Kimani, a UK-based artist, has recently completed a collaborative project with 14 members of The Mwelu Foundation.

As part the first phase of Wanja’s self-initiated project, ‘Dear Mr. President’, the group from Mathare took part in practical workshops and engaged in interviews. The final phase has seen her do similar work with a group of young people from the Greenstead Community Centre, Colchester, UK.

The project will culminate in a book titled “Dear Mr. President” to be released in December 2009. The publication aims to facilitate a visual conversation between the groups from Mathare and Colchester, exploring how one’s environment affects one’s self-perception and aspiration in light of President Barack Obama’s election. All proceeds from sales will contribute directly to sustaining of The Mwelu Foundation.

UPDATE: Write-up of Dear Mr President on the University of Essex website. Read more.

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James Otieno speaks to IRIN about life in an internally displaced people’s camp

James Otieno has spoken with the UN’s humanitarian news and analysis organisation, IRIN, about the time he spent living in an internally displaced people’s camp following Kenya’s post election violence at the end of 2007.

“I lived with my aunt in Mathare C since I lost my parents as a child. When things got very bad, we had to leave; we moved to camps.”

The full article can be read on the IRIN website.

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The Mwelu Foundation on NTV, Kenya – Watch again!

The Mwelu Foundation was featured in “Heros” on 25th May February on NTV, Kenya.

NTV Kenya paid a visit to the Mathare Valley slum in Nairobi to witness the children of The Mwelu Foundation filming their latest movie, Ghetto Girl.

Reporter, Rose Wangui, met with script writer Simon Onyango and chatted to Judy Joy Mugechi, Peter Gikonyo and Steven Otieno.

You can watch the clip from the programme below.

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Julius Mwelu selected for Twenty Ten All Stars team

Julius Mwelu has been selected as one of 108 African photographers and journalists to report on African stories leading up to the World Cup in South Africa in July 2010.

The Twenty Ten project aims to give African journalists a voice, both on the African continent, as well as worldwide. It offers African citizens the opportunity to experience their own view of African reality, as opposed to depending on foreign news organisations. It aims to encourage media professionals to creatively produce and distribute articles, images, broadcasts and multimedia productions related to African football.

Julius will receive training in reporting and will undertake a number of photo-journalism projects relating to the 2010 World Cup and African football.

At the end of 2009 the 18 most talented participants will be selected to become members of the Dream Team. Members of the Dream Team will be invited to travel to South Africa to cover the World Cup in June/July 2010.

See the Twenty Ten website for more information.

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New photography training programme gets under way

Sarah Parker, a social work student from Colorado State University has joined forces with the Mwelu Foundation to conduct a 3 month photography training programme. Armed with 25 brand-new point and shoot digital cameras the kids have already begun capturing images.

The programme comprises 4 mixed-gender groups of 5 children and will culminate in an exhibition.

Watch this space for more information!

Group photographs below, clock-wise from top left: Group Golden Rangers, Group Heroes, Group Passion and Group Zuhura.

Group Golden RangersGroup HeroesGroup PassionGroup Zuhura

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New office equipment purchased

With assistance from the Wings of Support Foundation the Mwelu Foundation has purchased 4 desktop computers and a selection of essential office furniture.

The computers will be used for photo and video editing and for general training in basic computer literacy.

All the kids at the Mwelu Foundation send their sincere thanks to Wings of Support for their generous assistance.

Rachael and The Mwelu Foundation kids test out the new computersRachael and The Mwelu Foundation kids test out the new computers

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Mwelu Foundation photographs featured in Europa magazine

Two photos taken by Julius Mwelu (Water is Life and When the Sun Goes Down) have appeared in the May issue of Europa, the magazine of European Alternatives, an organisation dedicated to exploring the potential for a post-national or transnational politics and culture.

The magazine can be read in full online.

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Joseph Kinyua becomes a published photographer

Joseph Kinyua’s photo, Rubbish Heap, has been selected to appear in the next edition of the publication Understanding Environmental Pollution by Marquita Hill. The commission earned will be spilt 50:50 between Joseph’s school fees and sustaining the operations of the Foundation.

More about Joseph

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The Mwelu Foundation on the BBC – Watch again!

The Mwelu Foundation was featured in “Explore: The Rift Valley” on 1st February on BBC2 in the UK.

Thank you so much for all the kind messages and offers of support we have received since then.

You can watch the clip from the programme below.

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The Mwelu Foundation on the BBC!

Anyone who has access to BBC television should watch “Explore” on BBC TWO on Sunday 1st Feb at 9pm, featuring the Mwelu Foundation!

For more information, see the listing on the BBC website.

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Julius Mwelu wins The Young Reporter Prize of the Prix Bayeux for War Correspondence

Julius Mwelu has won the Young Reporter Prize of the Prix Bayeux for War Correspondence for the photos he took during the post election violence at the end of 2007 and beginning of 2008. The award pays tribute to journalists who work in hazardous conditions to provide the world with information.

Julius made the following statement about his submission of photographs:

“This selection of photographs is only a small sample of the anger, violence and tragic death that I have witnessed. Photographing these events has not been easy for me but it has been my way of demonstrating. I do not want to confront the police at the roadblocks with machetes and stones, but with my camera. This way I can show the world what is happening and pray that change may come.”

For more information, see the article on the Prix Bayeux website.

Julius Mwelu wins The Young Reporter Prize of Prix Bayeux for War Correspondence Julius Mwelu wins The Young Reporter Prize of Prix Bayeux for War Correspondence

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Al Jazeera feature The Mwelu Foundation in Africa Uncovered

Today, the television network Al Jazeera has featured the activities of The Mwelu Foundation and Slum TV in a documentary looking at the post election violence in Kenya earlier this year.

Benson and Julius feature in the documentary which can be viewed below.

Part 1
Part 2

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The Mwelu Foundation travel to Barcelona to talk with HoritzoTV

Julius Mwelu and Steven Otieno have travelled to Barcelona, Spain to talk with HoritzoTV, the interaction television station, about life in Mathare and the work of the Mwelu Foundation.

HoritzoTV is an exhibition project and a worldwide meeting point for alternative television agents and proposals which are broadcast from analogical and digital platforms. HoritzoTV investigates and screens interactive television projects in a context in which everyone can be both broadcaster and receiver.

The discussion can be viewed on the HoritzoTV website.

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Shootback exhibition in Paris

To celebrate a decade of work by powerful photography by kids from Mathare the Shootback exhibition went back on display at 17 rue Dieu, Paris on 15th May.

Julius Mwelu travelled to Paris from Mathare for the opening of the exhibition and to talk about how he has continued with the Shootback concept through the Mwelu Foundation.

The exhibition received a great deal of interest from the international press:

Also, the Shootback story now has its own website with the stories and photos from the original Shootback group including Julius Mwelu.

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Julius Mwelu wins first prize in Friends of the Earth International photography competition

Flower

Julius Mwelu has won first prize in the Friends of the Earth International photography competition. The theme for the competition was “Dreams, Hopes and Possibilities for a Better World.”

More than 600 photos were received from 62 countries around the world, from amateur and professional photographers ranging in age from 10 to 67 years old. The photos were organized into two categories – Reclaiming Tradition, and Building Towards the Future – and were judged both on technical merit and on relevance to the theme of the competition. Julius won first prize in the “Building Towards a Better Future” category for his photograph of a boy planting flower in Mathare.

More details and other entries can be seen on the FOEI website.

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Message from Lana Wong

Lana, Julius and PeterIn 1997, I met Julius Mwelu and his mother in their one-room home in Mathare – one of Africa’s largest and most notorious slums on the outskirts of Nairobi. In an area roughly the size of New York’s Central Park, roughly three-quarters of a million people live in cramped corrugated iron shacks, most without electricity and running water. The average income is a dollar a day.

Julius’ father had long since passed away, and one of his brothers brewed chang’aa- the cheap but lethal illicit brew that many slum dwellers drink to forget their problems.

Shootback GroupJulius was eager to join the Shootback Project, a youth photography and development initiative that I had started in Mathare. One of our 31 members had just dropped out, so there was room to take on another student. For several days, Julius begged Kimanzi, my partner in the project, to give him a chance to join the group.

Julius’ persistence paid off, as well as his instinctive talent and remarkable determination to succeed against all odds in the slum. Ten years after taking his first photos with the Shootback Project, Julius now has an impressive list of group and solo photo exhibitions to his name, a book of his own photographs published, experience as a cameraman (he shot a video diary of his life that became the basis of the documentary film Shoot Back! produced by Prounen Films, Germany) and last year, was invited to be “artist in residence” at the Vrije Academie in The Hague.

Julius in ActionI am thrilled and proud that Julius has launched this foundation in an effort to continue the legacy of youth empowerment through photography that Shootback started. Just as Kimanzi and I did a decade ago, Julius is teaching kids in Mathare how to take pictures so they have a voice to tell their own stories. Julius is living proof that this empowering process can have a remarkable impact.

The incredible story of Julius’s transformation from gang member to role model and rising star of Kenyan photojournalism is inspiring testimony that the intervention of a grassroots development project can indeed change individual lives. I am confident that Julius and his commitment to the Mwelu Foundation will produce more stories of hope and inspiration in the years to come.

Lana Wong was Julius Mwelu’s first photography teacher from the Shootback Project and editor of Shootback : Photos by Kids from the Nairobi Slums

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