Voiceless Children

April 30, 2011

Felix Masi is a renowned documentary photojournalist and humanitarian, combining a wealth of experience in documenting humanitarian images on camera with a very personal background of lose and poverty. Born and raised in Kisumu, Western Kenya to a single mother, Felix and his siblings were orphaned at an early age, and left in the care of foster parents. After his maternal grandmother discovered the terrible conditions within which the children lived, she took action and had Felix and his siblings removed from the home and put in the care of his eldest sister and relatives.

Felix’s Photojournalism career is born out of life passion for photography. He was exposed to the cameras early by his mother, an avid photographer, frequently documented her children’s early years until death when Felix was only eight years old. After being rescued by his grandmother, Felix was among fortunate children in Kenya to enjoy a high school education. Upon graduation, Felix launched his career as a photojournalist in his first job at The standard, a leading local newspaper in Kenya.

In 1996, Felix’s brother, Dennis passed away after a battle with HIV/AIDS. This event, combined with his own personal experience and a life of witnessing Africa’s struggle with the pandemic, inspired Felix to resign from his newspaper position and begin working as an independent photo-journalist focused on humanitarian crises. In 2005, with a vision to help the women and children of his village create a path to a better future, Felix founded Voiceless Children, an organization that provides school fees for children as well as resources that help grandmothers care for their dependents. The same year, Felix was selected to participate in the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. Following this opportunity to further hone his expertise, Felix returned to Kenya, inspired to give voice to the millions of orphaned children, widows and grandmothers impacted by HIV/AIDS. The fulfillment of that vision was the film, A Grandmother’s Tribe.

Today Felix continues to work as a freelance photo-journalist “any place where a story needs to be told”. Alumni of a Visiting Program in Leadership and recipient of multiple prestigious awards, Felix continue his craft to elevate an understanding of humanitarian and social issues around the world.

Voiceless Children exists to give support to young people and their caregivers so that their struggle to survive becomes a struggle to be even better than they ever dreamed they could be fast.  Join us                http://www.voiceless-children.org/

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Postcards from my journey!

October 26, 2015

Long post after a long time Dear friends, let me tell you a little story, i would like to tell a little story about my journey and acts of kindness, I was only 8 when i lost my mother, this is when i came to face the cruel world, i realized how she was everything to me together with my siblings, I was the fourth born, my kid bro, now the late was so little then. Growing up, i wanted to be a war photographer, i thought their was glamour in dying to tell war stories.
Back in the days it seemed like every television story was about war, the slums were less congested but with no electricity and no flush toilets, we shared long drop, i think our block had two of them, yes! always under lock and key and because toilet business was and still is a matter of life and death in the developing part of the planet.

Although i had no questions about becoming a photojournalist, i just thought it was cool, I just wanted to tell stories the way those guys on television were doing it, most of them were Muzungus/Mundele in lingala (White people). Those were the days we could only watch television in social halls, the black and white television belonged to the municipality, you know what i am talking about. I will share with you one day when i first watched a colour screen NOT the tinted made in China “Gratewall” for my Kenyan old school friends who shared a similar path.

If i had doubts about my chosen career today I would selling clothes for a living or sipping spiritual wine like any other Catholic priest does, I wanted to be a priest, that was my late grandmother’s wish, i am not sure for how long but I loved serving, the alter boy’s life was special. I was a hustler and a good listener though, i also hanged around smart and motivating older friends, i still do keep most of them, they are my motivation, I motivated myself that I can make it in life.

Dear friends, telling a personal story is never easy, it is not a personality contest or a celebrity status, my strength is drawn from being able to pick up myself and help other countless selfless/hopeless souls to confront their own challenges. It is from this journey that i resigned from my daily full time job as a photojournalist in one of the leading local daily newspapers, to turn the camera on other countless orphan kids who had lost their parents. In this case i chose to document a story of children whose parents had died of HIV/Aids and were living with their grandparents.
A story that led me to ask grandmother’s in Mudoba village in Funyula, Western Kenya and grandmothers in Kibera slums in Nairobi both raising orphan kids from similar pandemic.

What motivates me today, is that these kids and their grandmothers opened their homes and allowed me to bring a camera into their humble dwellings to share a story of hope, loss, death, love and resilience with the world. I felt honored to have their confidence and trust in me, I knew this was the path i was trying to follow away from being a celebrity photojournalist at home. Folks, I got rid off this peer and group thinking and started documenting these families, it was challenging following these families without a budget, but i knew that their story was a turning point, I became part of the story.

I challenged myself to tell my childhood story through these kids, I was rescued and raised by my grandmother, a story so close to my heart RIP grandma! we create our destiny by the way we do things, i never let my childhood struggles hold me back, I wanted to live life but i also wanted to tell a human story, a story of hope, a story of African child from a personal experience.

From this humble beginning, i launched Voiceless Children in 2005 with the help of a selfless American grandmother Susie Banfield, we had met in Kenya, she saw my work and promised to help, the same year I was sent to the US on a Youth Leadership Program (IVLP) a class of very smart and visionary global citizens some were cabinet ministers, some were presidents of law society in various countries, some were teachers, we all wanted to learn from Americans and how we could make our part of the world a better place.

From these time, my journey developed into “A Grandmother’s Tribe” a story set between the above mentioned grandmothers by my special friends who became part of my family Qiujing Wong and Dean Easterbrook a story of HOPE. My family got bigger, I now have families in USA, Canada and New Zealand the home to the film director and producer of this award winning film, a story that triggered me to share my journey, I am not sure any of my friends from school and work ever knew my childhood story.

I have always told myself that I may have been born poor but am not so poor to touch a hopeless child, today I am a proud father, a husband with families and friends all over the world some by blood some through my work, but i cannot be any happier knowing that the second and youngest kid Emmanuel the star in the film through whom i see my childhood challenges, joined high school this week as a result of A Grandmothers Tribe film and dreaming big and maybe one day. I trust and hope Emmanuel and those before him not mentioned on this post will pay it forward!.

I could go on and on, but i learned lessons that when you are determined and passionate about a cause nothing is impossible, through this film, over 70 orphans have graduated, with 10 graduates some in university, some teaching and some like Emmanuel still dreaming to make it big! some grandmothers got homes, they have over 45 cows. I wish i could do more! I am grateful for my family, friends and the larger clan, mostly our children who agreed to share me with these families including sharing the little we had from food, the amazing grandmother Susie who has walked with me through ups and downs, and to the amazing NZ family that even taught me more on film production and to my lovely wife Ellen who means a world to me.

To all my friends not mentioned on this post, you are like stars, you are always there when i need you.
I want to leave you with this phrase “It is not the success that defines me but my journey and how many times i fall and rise when my wings are troubled and cannot not fly”. “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it” William Arthur Ward.

Emmanuel the lead kid in A Grandmother's tribe film, joined high school early this year and dreams to live his dream and give back to the community.

Emmanuel the lead kid in A Grandmother’s tribe film, joined high school early this year and dreams to live his dream and give back to the community.

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Emmanuel in 2010!

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Lorna Asira, then now a university student in Kenya in her fourth and final year!

Orchestra Symphony Kimbanguiste

September 11, 2012

Glody Membo, 13, practice with his fellow band members Armando Wabasolele, 10 (R), Dori Wasolua (L) with Armand Wabasolele (2nd L) at the Kimbanguiste center in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. These young boys are junior members of the Orchestra Symphony Kimbanguiste, Central AfricaÕs only all black Orchestra. The junior team is part of the school founded by Armand Diangienda. Despite many years of fighting, displacements brutal violence against women and children, a Congolese born Armand DiangiendaÕs, leader of Orchestra Symphony uses Congolese creativity and resilience in restoring hope of the tainted image of DR Congo, Africa and worldÕs wealthiest yet poorest.

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July 14, 2012

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Public Transportation in Kinshasa, DR Congo

July 14, 2012

“The Spirit of Death”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikjcBfO9C44&feature=player_embedded — at Voice Of America.

June 29, 2012

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikjcBfO9C44&feature=player_embedded — at Voice Of America.

Trailblazers

May 16, 2012

Trailblazers

We are already celebrating the gains through these individuals who have graduated. Some with honors, some more to join University next year and Fredrik Oduko who joined Kabianga University College for his undergraduate pursuing Bachelor of Science Communication and public Relations on May 7th. We are not there yet but making a difference in a small way, join us and thank for your support!Thank you for liking our page https://www.facebook.com/pages/VoiceleChildren/222683964452670?ref=tn_tnmn

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Voiceless Children exists to give support to young people and their caregivers so that their struggle to survive becomes a struggle to be even better than they ever
dreamed they could be fast. http://www.voiceless-children.org/

FHI 360 360 Presents A Grandmother’s Tribe-Washington D.C May 10 2012

May 5, 2012

FHI 360 360 Presents A Grandmother's Tribe-Washington D.C May 10 2012

FHI 360 Presents the screening of the award winning film, A Grandmother’s Tribe followed by a moderated panel discussion with Q&A, Speakers and panelists will be: Felix Masi, Film advisor, International Visitor Leadership program and founder Voiceless Children will introduce the film and talk about providing school fees for orphan African children in Kenya and supporting grandmother’s. Other panelists and speakers include: Danielle Darrow de Mora, Program Director Center of AIDS and community Health, FHI 360. Damon Woods, Founder and President Parnassus Global Agency, Alma Candelaria, Director, Office OF International Visitors U.S. Department of State and Dr. Al Siemens, CEO FHI 360. FHI 360 is a nonprofit human development organization dedicated to improving lives in lasting ways by advancing integrated, locally driven solutions. Our staff includes experts in education, health, nutrition, economic development, civil society, environment, gender, youth, research and technology – creating a unique mix of capabilities to address today’s interrelated development challenges. FHI 360 serves more than 60 countries and all U.S. states and territories.

A Grandmother’s Tribe Washington D.C. Screening

May 5, 2012

FHI 360 Presents the screening of the award winning film, A Grandmother’s Tribe followed by a moderated panel discussion with Q&A, Speakers and panelists will be: Felix Masi, Film advisor, International Visitor Leadership program and founder Voiceless Children will introduce the film and talk about providing school fees for orphan African children in Kenya and supporting grandmother’s. Other panelists and speakers include: Danielle Darrow de Mora, Program Director Center of AIDS and community Health, FHI 360. Damon Woods, Founder and President Parnassus Global Agency, Alma Candelaria, Director, Office OF International Visitors U.S. Department of State and Dr. Al Siemens, CEO FHI 360. FHI 360 is a nonprofit human development organization dedicated to improving lives in lasting ways by advancing integrated, locally driven solutions. Our staff includes experts in education, health, nutrition, economic development, civil society, environment, gender, youth, research and technology – creating a unique mix of capabilities to address today’s interrelated development challenges. FHI 360 serves more than 60 countries and all U.S. states and territories.

Trayvon Martin Justice Rally, Washington DC

April 4, 2012

Trayvon Martin Justice Rally, Washington DC

Hundreds of people joined together at the Freedom Plaza for a one million hoodie rally protest and demand for justice following a shooting of a 17 years old slain Trayvon Martin in Washington DC. The rally was emotional; men and women cried as speakers delivered powerful messages and challenged the media to focus on the subject of racism and racial profiling. Arcading to report, the 17-year-old slain teenager was unarmed and holding skittles and tea by the time of his killing. “The Trayvon case should not just be another statistic, but [it] should end the use of illegal guns and racism behind these killings.”

Trayvon Martin Justice Rally, Washington DC

April 4, 2012

Trayvon Martin Justice Rally, Washington DC

Hundreds of people joined together at the Freedom Plaza for a one million hoodie rally protest and demand for justice following a shooting of a 17 years old slain Trayvon Martin in Washington DC. The rally was emotional; men and women cried as speakers delivered powerful messages and challenged the media to focus on the subject of racism and racial profiling. Arcading to report, the 17-year-old slain teenager was unarmed and holding skittles and tea by the time of his killing. “The Trayvon case should not just be another statistic, but [it] should end the use of illegal guns and racism behind these killings.”


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