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Annual State of COVE Letter

November 6, 2020

Dear COVE Sponsors, Supporters, and Friends,

We hope this letter finds you and your families safe and in good health during these trying times. As you know, Uganda’s schools closed on March 20th, forcing our sponsored students to either return home or to relocate to grandparents and relatives throughout the region to carry on their studies, a very difficult undertaking in a region without the electricity, food & water, and other essentials needed for daily life. Thanks to your generosity throughout the year, and the dedicated, caring staff at COVE, we are proud to share with you this update describing the meaningful aid we have been able to provide to the COVE community in Uganda.

Through your donations, we were able to provide funding to keep the clinic open throughout the pandemic, serving students, staff, and the local community in need of medical services. The clinic immediately implemented enhanced sanitation measures (frequent hand washing, daily surface cleaning, use of hand sanitizer, temperature screenings, etc.) and increased use of PPE (masks, gloves, etc.) to protect both the staff and the patients. Additionally, the health clinic staff launched an educational campaign to instruct community members on how they can use protective measures to prevent the virus from spreading. Unfortunately, many Kapeeka residents have lost jobs or seen a significant loss of income throughout the pandemic and are now unable to pay for clinic visits. Smallholder farmers, a significant portion of the Kapeeka workforce, have been hit particularly hard, which directly impacts many of our sponsored children’s families. Many have also lost their only mode of transportation to the clinic since public transit was shut down. Others have chosen not to seek care due to their fear of catching COVID in clinical settings. This decrease in patient visits has resulted in a loss of revenue that the clinic needs in order to purchase vital supplies.

Early in the shutdown, COVE launched a home visit program to monitor all COVE students’ health and safety and deliver much needed emergency supplies. Essential provisions included food, hygiene and sanitation supplies, and educational materials. Additionally, COVE dispatched a team of four staff members—a teacher, a counselor, a nurse, and the Ugandan COVE sponsorship coordinator—to provide a holistic approach to caring for our students until they can return to school. Together these staff members worked to create community awareness about COVID-19 and how it can be prevented and controlled, helped provide families with ways to keep students focused on their school work and engaged in learning, to educate students about abuse and how to protect themselves, and to evaluate the health and safety of students’ living environments and offer counseling services as needed. These visits provided valuable information about what the sponsored children need to succeed in at-home learning so that these materials can be provided in future deliveries.

We have also continued paying full salaries to our program administrative staff, who have worked tirelessly this whole time to care for our sponsored children. Teachers and support staff have continued to receive reduced salaries until they return to campus to help financially assist them and their families with survival during these difficult times.

In addition to providing needed services for our COVE students, the program administrative staff has also ensured the continued maintenance of the COVE campus facilities. A company was hired to update the water filtration systems to ensure safe drinking water would be available when school resumes. This company will continue monitoring the filtration systems and changing filters to make sure they are working properly so the children do not get sick from contaminated water. Funds were also expended to maintain the borehole that allows the school to extract water, the school’s generator, and the school’s vehicles. Finally, eucalyptus trees have been planted on COVE’s agricultural land that will provide timber and firewood for cooking at the school.

Last month, candidate students were allowed to return to school. Candidate students include those in Primary 7 (P7 is similar to our 8th grade), Secondary 4 (S4 is similar to our high school senior year), and Certificate Programs (technical and health care programs) who need to take national exams in order to progress to the next level of their education or career. We have approximately 50 sponsored candidate students who have returned to school. We wish them the very best as they return to formal studies and prepare for the national exams, rescheduled for March 2021. COVE will continue to provide all students with emergency supplies, learning materials, and emotional support until all classes resume.

The cost of the emergency aid provided during the pandemic was approximately $25,000 and so far we have received $11,500 in donations earmarked for these emergency efforts. Like many other charitable organizations who had to cancel or reschedule their benefit events, we, too, have seen a loss in fundraising revenue. We are relying on this year’s Annual Appeal to replenish the funds used to finance the humanitarian aid we’ve been providing since March and to continue providing emergency services until all students return to school. Additionally, your donations will help ensure the health clinic has what it needs to provide critical care to patients in their highest time of need. The Cares Act does allow for greater charitable deduction benefits this year. Please consult your accountant or financial advisor for more details.

We are so very grateful to all of you for your financial support during this past year, which we know has been challenging and difficult for many of us. We could not fulfill the mission of COVE Alliance without your continued generosity.

The COVE Alliance Board of Directors

Annual State of COVE