Dr. Desta Yebassa, OCO Board President and Project Manager, testified in front of the Council of the District of Columbia, chaired by Ms. Anita Bonds on May 6, 2015. The Oromo Community Organization of Washington DC joined numerous community and non-profit organizations in advocating for increases in funding for their own organizations as well as for the Mayor?s Office on African Affairs, which has helped provide grants to qualifying non-profit organizations over the years.
OCO President explained to the Council that the Oromo make up ?over 40% of Ethiopia?s total population of 96 million and are the largest majority ethnic group in Ethiopia and the second largest single nationality group in Africa.? As Dr Yabessa spoke, the Chair of the DC Council and members of the committee and the Director of the Mayor?s Office on African Affairs listened attentively about this little known people called the Oromo. Dr Yebassa described: ?Most Oromo have lived through experiences of imprisonment or torture in their homeland or in refugee camps and luckily arrived in USA and chosen the Washington DC metropolitan area as their primary residence. Majority of them desperately need appropriate social support and services.?
He explained to the Council that some of the main challenges faced by the Oromo Community Organization is the lack of funding and permanent staff members and pleaded for more financial support from the OAA and DC Government in order to continue providing highly needed services that will contribute to the overall good of the city.
He testified the fact that the organization is run by 9 volunteer members of the Board and 5 members of the Executive Committee has hampered the services provided to the members of the Oromo Community. He proposed hiring paid fulltime employees would solve the problem by dedicating more time to implement community projects. The President witnessed OCO run a number of successful projects, including providing health awareness training using the grant received from the OAA. Given more grant and financial support from OAA, the OCO President highlighted plans to implement projects and social services to the members of the community.
The Council Chairperson Ms. Bonds suggested to Dr. Yebessa that OCO should put more emphasis on providing social services to the community in addition to providing ongoing training.