Christmas at COVE

Christmastime in Uganda is a beautiful season, and at the St. Jerome COVE Center it is filled with cheer and wonder. The annual COVE Christmas party gives the children the opportunity to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and thank God for what they have been given and achieved through education.

At this year’s party COVE also celebrated the achievements of many of the students. Four young women graduated from vocational school, eleven students completed seventh grade, four students completed senior four (junior year of high school), and three young men joined universities.

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The celebration began with a mass led by Fr. Jerome; the Deputy Chancellor of Kasana Luweero Diocese. Co-celebrants were Frs. Hilary, Peter and Vincent. Christmas party attendees included: board members, health unit management committee, school management committee members, parents, COVE staff, community leaders, and of course the COVE children.

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The children decorated the COVE campus with crafts, flowers and balloons, and felt proud to see their contribution appreciated by the guests. Another excellent Christmas activity the children participated in this year was a play about the birth of Jesus Christ. The play was a definite hit with everyone that attended.

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All of the children also had a present to receive! This year their Christmas gifts were colorful blankets.

Merry Christmas!

Uganda Tour: A Field Trip!

gandhi 2The recent COVE day trip to Jinja (Eastern Uganda) was the first field trip for some of the COVE students. On Thanksgiving morning the COVE children departed to tour the source of the Nile River. Many of these children have never been out of their villages. They tell us they do not know what their country looks like, and are amused when we tell them how beautiful it really is!

marketThey have now had the opportunity to see it for themselves. This tour is the only full day trip that enables the COVE children to experience a wide range of outdoor educational activities in the natural beauty and serenity of the Ugandan country side. They visited a number of places: Nytil Industries (Manufacturer of clothes), Vitafoam (Manufacturer of mattresses), Owen Falls Dam, and Kasaku Tea Estate. Everyone had fun taking a walk in Mabira Forest and seeing the source of the Nile River. The tour also included a craft market, the National Football Stadium, ice cream (what trip wouldn’t be complete without it!?), the Gadafi mosque, and a statue of Mohatma Gandhi. The tour was educational and has added to their knowledge, amusement, curiosity, and adventure.

Peace and Prayer,



A time of Thanksgiving: Graduation from St Mary’s Vocational School

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It was so happy and joyful to see Miria, Leokadia and Josephine graduate on the 21th November 2014. Their first grades in hairdressing and cosmetology are great tidings for their future careers.

Joseph and Harriet (sponsorship coordinator), along with teacher Helen and nurse Bruno attended the 14th graduation ceremony on behalf of the staff. We want to congratulate them on completing their studies at St. Mary’s Vocation School.
COVE Uganda extends a big thank you to our beloved sponsors for all they have provide to see that these young women complete their studies.

We want to extend our thanks to the administration and the entire teaching staff of St. Mary’s for the efforts they have put to making sure that our girls acquire these skills.

There is saying which goes: “When you educate a girl, you are educating a generation.”

God has always answered our prayers.


Immunization Day

Immunization Day is an exciting time at the COVE Health Center. Please enjoy this entry about Immunization Day from health worker Mary Serbin. 

Every Wednesday of the week is immunization day at St. Jerome COVE Health Center. Several mothers and their babies start gathering as early as 9:00am; many are dressed up in brightly colored clothes, the babies dressed in “ruffles.” We have learned many things, like how to weigh the babies in a sling attached to a scale that is hung over a mango tree limb. Many of us were nervous that the baby might fall out of the sling, so three of us stood around the baby, ready to catch.

After weighing, everyone congregates in the clinic, mother and baby are waiting to receive either a vaccination injection or oral vaccine. Nurse Dorothy taught me and Dr. Philip how to dispense just 2 drops (gtts) of oral polio, and she also acquainted us with the information on each vaccination card. The rest of my group members enjoyed being able to help with the vaccination process and were very gentle with the children. Nurses Sylvia and Dorothy refreshed my injection skills and oversaw my DPT + Measles injection into many of the babies. I loved being able to interact with the lovely mothers and the beautiful babies.

St. Jerome COVE Health Center nurses are excellent in providing compassionate, comprehensive care to the patients. It was a pleasure and honor to work alongside Sylvia, Dorothy, Bruno and Joseph.

Mary Serbin

Delegates Visit COVE

The Uganda Culture is all about sharing gifts with the visitors. It is their way of saying ‘welcome to my home’ and ‘thank you for caring’. The gifts shared with the visitors are from their land, whether it is food from the garden or leaves from the trees made into crafts. Chicken, jackfruit, sugar cane, ground-nuts, eggs, avocado, bananas and mats are among the gifts that they freely share with the delegates. It is a joyful time of conversation and family.

In the last month seven children were adopted by a group of delegates from Bloomington led by Fr. Tom. They are now part of the COVE family. The children were initially timid around their new sponsors, but after some quality time, everyone relaxed and enjoyed themselves. Would you like to sponsor a child? Visit our website at

God Bless caring hearts


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Throwback Post: Sekukkulu

This article featured in the December 2012 COVE Alliance Newsletter highlights the Sekukkulu Christmas holiday celebrations in Uganda. Check it out while you peruse our pictures on Facebook of the baby chicks that recently arrived at the COVE center!

Christmas is called Sekukkulu in Uganda and is celebrated on the 25th of December.

Sekukkulu, the birth of Jesus Christ, begins on the 24th of December with a “watch night” service. We do not use candles but the church is well lit, richly decorated and the service includes many Christmas carols. The real holiday cooking starts on the night of the 24th after the service. The morning of Sekukkulu, the church is filled to full capacity; even people who never go to church attend church on this day. People get to wear their new attire, especially for women to show off their new traditional dresses in rich colors with matching turbans. The church is followed by an incredible feast, An American Thanksgiving feast doesn’t even come close to a Sekukkulu celebration.

Everything stops for Sekukkulu, Hospitals start discharging patients to go home except for those who have serious conditions. Most government bureaucrats take their holiday break from almost the middle of December to the second week in January. All official business grinds to a halt. With the arrival of Sekukkulu, the prices of food and other goods become incredibly high and the crime rate also increases. Transport to upcountry becomes high.

Sekukkulu is not about giving and receiving presents as Christmas is in the United States. Instead, it is about sharing, love, food, family and new clothes.

In a typical Uganda rural setting, the Sekukkulu plans start almost in the mid-November. Chickens play a central role in the feasting. In the month of Novembers chickens are coddled to make sure that they are nice and fat. Families that couldn’t afford chicken any other time somehow would find a way to purchase chickens for the celebration. The news that somebody cannot afford chicken on Sekukkulu is met with great sadness.

The process of getting ready for Sekukkulu and preparing the meal is not a chore, but a joy. Love is the major ingredient. Normally, the evening before Sekukkulu is a very exciting time as the aroma of the foods being prepared fills the air. That day some families slaughter cows, goats, chickens, ducks, turkeys and the like. Children are always busy cleaning the home; especially sweeping the courtyard. The grass is cut. As a child, I knew that we would spend the whole day running around delivering food my parents have put aside to give to friends, family and neighbors.

I still remember people delivering meats, sugar, Blue band, cooking oil, onions, cassava and tomatoes. Then came the food from the in-laws and friends plus the workmates of our parents: we always looked forward to that. They always tried to outdo themselves from the year before. They always included fancier foods unavailable to most Ugandans like cakes, biscuits and soda.

Of course, most important was preparing chicken in the Luwombo, to many Ugandans the climax of Sekukkulu. After the chicken is smoked, it is well seasoned and then wrapped in a smoked banana leafs and then steamed together with the matooke or green bananas for hours in separate wrappings. The steaming bananas give the chicken a scrumptious taste. Just like chicken, the bananas that would be cooked on Sekukkulu are chosen in advanced. Bananas are cooked green, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. After the bananas are cooked, they are mashed within the banana leaves and re-cooked, giving them a taste to die for. The method of steaming food wrapped up in banana leaves is very unique and it gives the food a true Ugandan authentic flavor that cannot be imitated in a modern American kitchen on a modern stove.

The excitement built, as more and more food gifts arrived from family to supplement the meals already planned. On top of the bananas and chickens, different types of meats are cooked as well as sweet potatoes, cassava and rice. The Sekukkulu dishes are specially made with unusual delicacies. Everybody eats and drinks until they cannot eat any more. After the major feast it is time of storytelling, games, dancing and singing while drinking soda and snacking on cakes. The Sekukkulu celebrations go on to the wee hours of the morning. Everything is closed on the 26th of December.