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 http://www.covealliance.org

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.

Indiana group working with the children

Working with the Children is awesome experience that helped us bond and gain insights into each other, we joined p.1 Class and the rest of the School on Wednesday of 23rd July/2014 at 2pm to teach art and craft. We taught them how to make friendship bracelets, and some children and teachers learned how to crochet. All of the children were very excited to participate and have their own crafts to take with them. The rooms were very crowded, and full of noise and movement! They did a very good job. It is awesome to see all of the students, teachers, and our team walking around campus wearing these bracelets. It brought all of us great joy to be a part of this activity!
It has been a huge privilege to pray with and celebrate Mass each day with the COVE family. It is just incredible that we can share this same prayer, even though there are language differences between those of us from America and the people of Uganda. Jesus’ love extends beyond country borders and cultural differences. Coming together to sing, dance, and receive the Eucharist is one of the greatest gifts of these two weeks. The children sing loudly and passionately, with love for God in their hearts! What a joy it is to be able to share our Catholic faith.
This morning, Monday, July 28, 2014, we spent time reading with small groups of children from P1 and P2. They are developing good reading skills, and are able to identify big words (like ‘xylophone’!). You can tell that their teachers work very hard with them. The older students came to help the younger students, and they are very proud of all they know. It won’t be long till these little ones are reading chapter books like the older kids! We enjoyed reading with the students and helping them learn a little more.
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Beautiful place beautiful Children!!!!!