All For One Association : The Founder and The Board Of The 1500 Member Organization Were Praised For Bringing Together The Ethiopian Community In Time of Death And Bereavement

January 29, 2018
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 President Mulumebet flanked by her Vice President Dori Girma ( left) and Secretary Tsemona Solomon ( courtesy photo)

Alexandria, Virginia (Little Ethiopia)-In 1974 the long reigning Ethiopian monarch, Emperor Haile Selassie I, was overthrown by a Coup d’état that was led by an army major who summarily executed the commanding generals of all the Imperial Armed Forces of Ethiopia which is known as the 2nd Addis Ababa massacre of 60 senior civilians and Military officials that included two prime ministers and a grandson of the Emperor. 

In the 1st Addis Ababa Massacre, In February 1937, the brutal Italian fascist General Rudolph Graziani killed over 30,000 innocent Ethiopians in a span of 3 days. Though the summary execution and the illegal power grab of the monarchy received condemnations and protests by international community, the junta continued its harsh governing policies by killing thousands of innocent people who opposed its dictatorial rules. Finally, Selassie was alleged to be strangled to death in 1975 by the leader of the junta. Abyssinia, the ancient name of Ethiopia was the beacon  of hope for the black world that fought successfully two major wars to keep the flames of “ Freedom “ in continental Africa during the Europeans scramble of the 19th and 20th Century.  The junta, infamously known as " Derg " embraced socialism that triggered more violent political campaigns against competing Marxist-Leninist groups that resulted in the purging of tens of thousands of civilians and dead bodies left on the streets of Addis Ababa and the country side under an Ethiopian Red Terror campaign of 1977-79. 

Lands were nationalized and business were confiscated that resulted in mass migration of people to neighboring African countries, Middle East, Europe and the United States. Those who were outside the country for business or schooling stay put where ever they were for fear of persecution by the military government. Countries like the United States recognizing the grave situation of the late 1970s and early 80s issued temporary visas known as the “ Extended Voluntary Departure “ which later changed to amnesty by the  Simpson-Mazolli  Legalization Bill of 1986 and the former U.S. President Ronald Reagan issued permanent residency for about 30,000 Ethiopians. 

The Greater Washington DC Metro area which has two of its jurisdictions as sister-cities of Addis Ababa and Gondar of Ethiopia became the recipients of these refugees making them to be the largest Ethiopian community outside of Africa. The Diasporas from the ancient country of Ethiopia, as heir to the most rich and ancient cultures, soon began marketing the magnificence of their heritage and culture by opening up markets, cafes and restaurants including building their own places of worship in the District of Columbia and the surrounding suburbs, recently 19 Ethiopian Orthodox Churches in DC Metro area celebrated together “ Timket “ ( the Ethiopian epiphany.) 

The Ethiopians in the Diaspora shared their Ethiopian cuisine, the traditional Coffee Ceremony, the breaking of the bread and the shoulder dance by opening great restaurants and markets gaining prominence and popularity around the world. But, when it comes to death the family members go back to the community at large to raise funds for burial and bereavement in accordance with the old tradition they brought with them. In the motherland, majority of the people belong to “ Idir “ a small association of the neighborhood organized within the village to help a grieving family. When at death occurs a man blows a horn going around the neighborhood announcing the time and the location of burial. The cost is minimal and the load is shared amongst the villagers but in the Diasporas specially in the United States funeral services are very expensive and money has to be raised by placing collection boxes at the places of worship and business but four years ago an Ethiopian woman, Ms. Mulumebet Wolde came up with a new idea to stop the practice and she wanted each family member to take responsibility for their loved ones. She founded an organization “ Fetno Derash “ which is now famously known as “ All For One Association “ to help the family member of the deceased with out looking for any kind of collections. 

All For One Association was officially launched and incorporated in March 2015 and since then Wolde’s model became a success with over 1500 members. A General Assembly was called on January 14, 2018 and nearly 500 members came in the cold weather to hear “ the State of the Association “ at the T. C. Williams High School. The President, Vice President and other board members with the help of a finance team and an IT specialist gave full briefings on the health of the association. She told that the association has lost 35 members and they paid $ 700,000 for the deceased families at $ 20,000 per family. 

The President’s and the other speakers told some of their activities, as follow 

  • A revised bylaws for 2018 completed 
  • A budget for 2018 is prepared 
  • Audit Report for 2015-2016 completed
  • An APP for the Association installed 
  • A non-profit Status Certification obtained 

The members were given the opportunity for Q & A session, most of the speakers who stood up gave their admiration for the hard working board of directors and President Wolde. They were very grateful to the boards for voluntarily sacrificing their time and money without receiving any kind of compensation from the organization or any any other sources. In addition to the questions, some  of the suggestion from the floor included the injection of an algorithm system to increase the membership and also looking forward to have a large hall for bereavement.

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