From the Media Capital, to the Global Ethiopian Community
Wednesday October 27th 2021

The Lalibela Project: Picturing a Brighter Future

Thomas Kocsis and his wife Yvette Pennacchia, founders of The Lalibela Project.

On the ground floor of Lemons Contemporary, captivating photos taken by children from the ages of 9-15 are displayed on the walls.  The pictures offer a rare glimpse into ‘Ethiopia as seen through a child’s lens’, easily inviting us into their lives.  Next to each photo is a picture of the photographer and a brief memoir that adds a personal touch and invites us even further into the lives of the photographers.  In their own words, the children talk about their favorite subjects, hobbies, and what they would like to become.  Most of the children’s favorite subject include science, geography, and English, and most want to be a “doctor to help other people.”

With the help of Thomas Kocsis and his wife Yvette Pennacchia, founders of The Lalibela Project, the children have greater hope in achieving their dreams.  Kocsis said the goal of the project is to help more children and “build a bigger house in Lalibela, raise funds, help the children with school, and help them to accomplish their dreams.”
The mission of Lalibela Project is to improve the quality of life for disadvantaged children in Africa by providing them with an opportunity for a better future.  Lalibela Project International Corporation is organized under the non-for-profit laws of the State of New York and is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.

Kocsis and Pennacchia have traveled multiple times to Ethiopia and are committed to making a difference in Ethiopia.  “We sponsored someone from Lalibela and came up with the idea to support other children,” said Pennacchia.  Their orphanage now supports 15 children.

The present state of orphans in Ethiopia is alarming and there is no wonder as to why the founders of this project chose to concentrate on Lalibela, Ethiopia.  Currently there are 4.6 million orphans, 11% of the country’s child population, and by 2010 the percentage of AIDS orphans will reach 43 percent, or 2.2 million, of all orphans in the country.  Located in northern Ethiopia, Lalibela is one of Ethiopia’s holiest cities and is a center of pilgrimage.

The photo exhibit opened on Friday July 18th, and took a great deal of work.  Digital cameras were collected a year ago and given to the children.  From over 800 photos taken, 28 were selected.  While the biggest challenge was to bring everything together, judging from the looks of the exhibit, it seemed like a task met effortlessly. The founders of the Lalibela Project hope to create a traveling exhibition and are open to show invitations in other states.

Photos from the exhibit are on sale ranging in price between $100-$620 (depending on size) with proceeds benefiting the Love and Hope Children Center, a facility providing a safe environment for orphans and vulnerable children in Lalibela, Ethiopia.

Ethiopia, as seen through a child’s lens will be showing now thru July 31st at Lemons Contemporary located on 11 Harrison Street, on the ground floor (between Hudson & Greenwich – call for show hours) in New York, NY 10013. T: 212-337-0025 , F: 212-337-0036.

For more information on The Lalibela Project please visit:

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