The Oromo people, numbering more than 40 million, are bound by common history, culture, language, and above all?by Oromumma. They constitute well over 40% of Ethiopia?s total population and are the second largest single nationality group in Africa. They have their own unique language (Afaan Oromo), culture, and democratic governance (the Gada system).
The Oromo have been fleeing and continue to flee their homeland, Oromia, due to political persecution, economic injustices and human rights abuses perpetrated against them merely because of their ethnicity. Having been collectively subjected to prosecution, the Oromo have a shared vision and common destiny. At the same time, they have different views on how to overcome their collective challenges, and belong to different religious persuasions.
It is estimated that more than ten thousand Oromo immigrants and refugees live in the Washington metropolitan area?the second largest concentration of Oromo in the United States (only after the State of Minnesota). Most of those who are here have lived through experiences of imprisonment, torture, or internment in their homeland and refugee camps in neighboring states. A significant number of them are separated from?their loved ones and have lost their?properties. They do not have established families in the USA. Like other refugee and immigrant groups, they face many barriers to becoming self-sufficient, including language and cultural barriers.
The Oromo Community Organization
The Oromo Community Organization (OCO) of the Washington Metropolitan Area was established in 1988 to assist Oromo refugees to overcome challenges they face in their adopted homeland. The?OCO is a tax-exempt, service providing organization within the meaning of section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code, created to serve the interests of its members.
Please click here to read the Bylaws of the OCO updated as of September 7 2013.
The OCO is created to foster unity of purpose and networking among the Oromo people, and to promote the preservation, continuity and development of the Oromo language, culture and traditions. Founded on the enduring concept of Oromuma, the OCO serves the interests of all Oromos.
Cognizant of the national and international threats to the continuity of Oromo identity, language, culture, and history due to oppression, assimilation, and loss of affiliation, the OCO mission transcends the physical borders of its Washington D.C. area. The OCO management seeks to strengthen the Oromo identity, and values in cooperation with other Oromo communities in North America and around the world. The specific objectives are:
- Provide immigration and other social assistance services to new Oromo immigrants and refugees;
- Provide health awareness and education services to members and the community at large;
- Promote self-help and social assistance among the Oromo residing in the Washington DC area in order to strengthen individual life, family unity, and group survival in times of emergencies and social needs;
- Create a window of connection and continued engagement with events in Oromia, through a regular media and communication? service program that provides current news, and highlights human rights, political and economic development issues;
- Promote the preservation, continuity and development of the Oromo language (Afaan Oromo), culture, and historical heritage through education; and;
- Provide entertainment and opportunities for formal and informal networking among the Oromo.
OCO elects its leaders annually through a democratic process. This includes the board of directors, executive committee, and various functional sub committee. ?Please see the Leadership?page for the bio of our leaders.