Headshot Photo of Meaza Light-Orr
2023 Award Recipient


Project Kids for Kololo

Location Los Angeles, CA

Issue Area Advocacy/Activism | Education

Meaza and her brother were adopted from the rural village of Kololo, Ethiopia and raised in the United States. From their adoptive parents, the siblings received their surname, Light-Orr, which means light in both English and Hebrew. Aware of how limited her prospects might have been had she grown up in rural Ethiopia, Meaza felt blessed by the opportunities afforded her. In 2021, Meaza started Kids for Kololo to increase educational equity and access in rural Ethiopia.

The project identifies and addresses unmet educational needs in partnership with local communities while empowering teens in Los Angeles to create positive change in the lives of children in another country. Following the example of her mother, who helped establish a primary school in Kololo, Meaza and her classmates were motivated to fundraise more than $120,000 to build and operate a middle school in the same village, increasing enrollment in the primary school by 30 percent as the future educational pathway became clear.

Hailing from a farming village in rural Ethiopia, my future seemed destined for limited possibilities. However, through the opportunities given to me through my adoptive family, I’ve learned the power of paying it forward and sharing those opportunities.

Meaza Light-Orr
Headshot Photo of Meaza Light-Orr

Kids for Kololo

Inspired by her own adoption story from Ethiopia, Meaza started Kids for Kololo to improve education access in the village where she was born. The organization fosters connection and leadership among students in Los Angeles to support increased education access in rural Ethiopia. By engaging teen leaders in nonprofit work and bringing them closer to the experiences of others, Kids for Kololo teaches empathy and compassion while improving access to education and quality of life for children in rural Ethiopia.

Meaza Light-Orr sits at a table with others and gestures towards the camera.
Headshot Photo of Meaza Light-Orr