Week ending 18th December
The last week of term is always quite
frenetic with many new events fitting in as well as the normal
events too. We carried on delivering some lessons, in this
picture one of our newer Skills Training students is showing off
her chopping skills in cookery, wrapped up against the Gambia
cold winter mornings. (Probably around 20 deg C!)
We still have
supporters visiting Sunrise. This time our long time friends
Tessa and Ray Harding who have helped a number of students and
pupils over many years through GETS. The picture shows them
talking to Mr Beyai, who is the teacher of the boy whom they
support in Lower Basic 1, Sheriff Tamba.
We crammed in an
important PTA meeting, discussing the many hot topics that
parents and teachers needed to debate. One of these was how we
managed the children who weren’t picked up at the end of Nursery
school, either because parents were late or because they were
waiting for older brothers or sisters to finish class in other
parts of Sunrise.
have at least one debate at the end of term. The picture shows
the Lower Basic and Students from Skills listening to the older
children debating a hot topic; “Are Teachers more important than
Doctors”. A successful debate got good feedback from teachers
and a winner proclaimed, based on speech clarity, use of English
and the arguments used. We’ve used this topic before but it is
always very interesting to hear the new discussions that come
Finally we had our
annual Christmas card competition, this time in our oldest Lower
Basic class, grade 4. The winning entry from Nasarta Sanyang is
shown here with some of the runner-ups.
The pupils, aged
around 11 had to draw a card that was brightly coloured so that
it might be animated and sent out to our sponsors to say thank
you for their support.
All were very good
this year again.
The general message was Happy Christmas to all!
School breaks up now
and the blog will restart in early January 2016.
Week ending 11th December
Last week we had a big group of visitors
from the Taylor family who sponsor a number of students in The
Sunrise Centre. Tony managed to get mum and dad (Pat and Geoff)
to pose with daughters Tori and Jenny plus Jenny's fiance,
Stuart, in the playground that we are completing, if rather
Tori later met up with
Awa Nying from Skills Year 2 whom she sponsors.
the Nursery classroom to see how the learning was progressing in
Nursery 3 under their very capable teacher, Fatou Sanneh. One of
the children that Pat and Geoff support, Jankey Secka, is
pictured here writing with intense concentration.
Tony also managed to
catch Pat talking with Isata Sey from our Lower Basic 3, another
of our students supported by Pat and Geoff.
We are very grateful
for the support that the family bring to Sunrise and for the
gifts of resources that they always bring us too. Thank you.
In our Bantaba the
Year 2 Skills Training Students were making biscuits outlines
prior to cooking in the gas oven. The results were excellent.
Also this week we have
been working on cutting out pieces of material for making
uniforms. The material is gathered and laid on the tie and
dye slab before the addition of dyes.
The result is the golden yellow colour material that we
use for dressing our Nursery children, now drying throughout the
Week ending 4th December
This week's blog features the many photo opportunities on our
Mufti Day. The children paid a small fee to come without
uniform, just D5 or 7p. The day began with Mrs Sally Cessay (N2 Teacher) drumming with
an oil drum to allow the staff and children to dance, in turn.
The venue was the school sports area, ringed with children.
Staff, like Mbacho Jallow, encouraged the children to entertain,
whilst the others clapped out a rhythm, allowing dancing Jola
style (with much stamping of feet).
The staff also dressed up and the picture shows Mrs Jawara
looking particularly elegant.
More Jola dancing from classroom assistant Yassin supported by
Paul, another very outward going child who often dances for us.
gave prizes for the best dressed students in traditional costume and
these pictures show Fatou Naban (Sk1) as a Mandinka bride and Sang Secka
(Sk1) with his mum's Sera top and father's Jola trousers.
in Lower Basic were Jainaba Touray and Mariama Singhateh.
Nursery winners were Fatima Singhateh and Momodou Alpha Ntule.
Bah did a great job as Master of Ceremony in the hall and
everyone seemed to enjoy the day.
Week ending 27th November
Another busy week meeting some old friends
and also new ones. We were pleased to welcome back Jacqui Barlow
and her friend (a Gambian new-comer) Alison Dawson. They brought
us resources to stock up our store cupboard. Thank you.
Sue Nelson was in
school today and met up with the young girl that she has just
started sponsoring; Aji Jainaba Nyang with her LB G1 teacher, Mr
Beyai. Aji would have had to leave school if not for Sue’s help.
Old friends Barbara
and Barry Young were in school this week, to see us and also
with a letter to deliver to Ousman Cham. His sponsor, had sent
him a nice letter, slowly read to Ousman by Barry, and also some
UK Scout Badges, since his UK sponsor is a key worker in this
important area of youth support. Scouting is practised in The
Gambia though Ousman didn’t know about this.
Barbara and Barry
enjoyed the normal tour of the facilities to check on our
progress in Sunrise and meet some of our staff. The picture
shows them in Nursery 1 with Teacher Kaddy Jawara and assistant
This week was the
first week for another newcomer to The Sunrise Centre, Fatou Krubally. Her mum brought her in with her new uniform to begin
in Lower Basic G1. Fatou didn’t seem nervous about starting at
a new school which is great. She is a Mandinka and a Muslim.
Friday was Mufti Day
with lots of pictures, to come next week, but here is just a
sample. Everyone in the Hall showing off a mass of beautiful
Week ending 20th November
This week we had a very important person
join the staff of Sunrise, our new Education Director, Mr Alkali
Cham. He replaces the previous director (Kaddy Fofana) who left
us to further her education and career within Teacher Training.
Mr Cham was welcomed to Sunrise by Sue Nelson (Trustee) and a
selection of children from across the school. We are very
pleased to see Mr Cham bring new ideas and experience to help us
Mrs Cham’s baby (Haddy)
was in school again this week and appeared in another photo,
this time with Sue. Haddy often arrives at breaktime to be fed
by her mum. Haddy must be good at telling the time already!
Each area of the
school has assemblies during the week. The 4 classes in the
Lower Basic school are beginning to fill the hall but we will be
squeezing them more over the next 2 years as we fill our final
classrooms with G5 and G6 classes.
Mr Cham (Education
Director) enjoyed teaching both Nursery students and teachers a
new song about a donkey, with lovely actions that were performed
With our building
works nearing completion we have collected loads of rubbish that
the builders are slowly removing. The truck sent to take this
too the tip took some filling but the site looks much better as
Our Nursery 1 Teacher,
Mrs Jawara brought her sister-in-law to school to see the
children one day this week. Maria Garcia, who is Spanish,
enjoyed a tour of inspection and spent time with the children in
class too. Although she doesn’t speak much English, one of the
G4 Lower Basic Students (Nasarata Sanyang) can speak Spanish and
English (plus local languages too, of course) so helped with
interpreting the commentary on the tour. Very impressive, thank
Week ending 13th November
This week has been a time for visitors,
both from within the Gambia and from abroad, since the tourist
season is well under way now.
Firstly our very good friend and long time supporter, Mrs Chow
came into see us. Mrs Chow still lives in Bakoteh and runs an
excellent school in Fajara, as well as doing many other things
in the field of education. She is pictured in the office with
Helen and another of our good friends and supporters, Chris
Humphries. Chris has come with her husband Steve to help us on
Mondays and Thursdays. Steve paints everything! Chris loves
working with the youngsters, helping them catch up on reading
and other work where they struggle.
We then caught up
with Angela Longoni-Sarr who raises money for the charity on a
regular basis, through her UK enterprise Mandinka Crafts.
Angela, together with partner Johnnie and her friend Malik Sarr,
who drove them all to Sunrise, are pictured with Helen in the
office. They all enjoyed a tour of the latest improvements that
GETS have given to the community, with the cash that has been
Other long time
supporters are Val and David Allen. They enjoyed the assembly of
the Nursery school and were entertained by all the singing, with
appropriate actions, followed by an excellent rendition of the
Gambian National Anthem.
Also this week we had a visit from Garth
Issacs with friend and driver Ousman Minteh. Garth has helped
with sponsoring school places for Gambians for many years and
hisfriend Ousman, a Gambia who now lives in the UK, was enjoying
a return to see family and friends after many years away from
them. Lovely to see them enjoying time with some Lower Basic
boys in the sports area.
Tony caught all these
visitors, together with Denise Green who helps out in the office
on regular occasions. It is truly wonderful to have so much help
at our school and this means that most things are running
smoothly now. The picture shows (from left to right) Denise,
Chris Humphries, Val and David Allen and Steve Humphries
complete with roller!
classes continue too of course - Alfusainey Bah is shown here in
his Primary Grade 3 class painting African round houses.
Alfusainey has enjoyed being at Sunrise for 5 years now, thanks
to support from his UK sponsor and he is growing up fast into a
strong and confident individual. He was once very, very shy!
We have 40 students
in Skills 1 now and Mr Darboe is working hard to make sure that
they know the basics about Tie and Dye theory, including colour
and chemical proportions.
Week ending 6th November
Our smallest children from Nursery 1
feature in this week's blog. Tony took pictures of their
teacher, Kaddy Jawara, showing them the days of the week and
asking them to call them out as a reminder.
One of our most senior
classroom assistants, Mbacho Jallow, was helping a young girl
drink from our fresh water supplies. The young girl is Chisom
Nwagbaraocha, who is nearly 4 years old. She is from the Igbo
ethnic background (originally from SE Nigeria) and is a
Christian. Her sister is also learning with us in N3. We are
about to have fresh water supplied from European style drinking
fountains, which we hope will be successful at removing the tubs
of cool water around the school.
In N1 classroom the
pupils have been helping teachers colour paper chains and make
colourful mobiles to hang from the ceiling.
The first year skills
training students are beginning to learn the basic Tie and Dye
skills, making beautifully bright coloured cloth and drying it
in the bright sunshine behind our bantaba area.
We were also pleased
to see Bill Nelson and also with him, trainer and driver Laineh
(actually Momodou Laineh). Bill works for the charity First Aid
4 Gambia, training and supplying more than 60 schools throughout
The Gambia with equipment and knowledge. We have been helping
Bill by storing equipment and supplies at Sunrise, whilst Bill
re-organises his facilities in The Gambia. See
for more information or to support this
The teachers at
Sunrise often put together resources to help them teach, often
using flipchart type stiff paper, known locally as “Vanguards”.
Mariama Jarju is pictured here with a Vanguard, showing the
series of numbers in French. Mariama is on attachment to Sunrise
during her HTC teacher training at Gambia College. Her first
language is very much French. She helps us deliver the Gambian
Education requirement to teach French in Lower Basic.
Week ending 30th October
good to see the hall at Sunrise filling with growing numbers of
children as first the 90 Nursery children -
the 120 children from the Lower Basic School - met to sing and
join in a number of fun activities. The sound of the Gambian
National Anthem at the end of the LB assembly was quite
something and very, very loud.
Tony has been taking
pictures of each of the classes in each area of the school.
These pictures can be found by following the links below -
Lower Basic classes
A copy of the Nursery
1 picture is shown here.
We still have students
coming to collect fees at this late stage of the year. Haddy
Jatu Cham came with her mother, Umi to get her fees given by her
sponsor so that she could keep attending the Deeper Life school,
The Skills Training
students are now using the enclosed Bantaba. This prevents
wild-life from entering the practical area that we use, mostly
Students from Year 3
are making fairy cakes and our new skills classroom assistant,
Fatou Nyassi (from last years skills 3 students), brought some
into the office for testing and tasting. Lovely!
Week ending 23rd October
This week Trustees,
Dawn and Paul Webster, left us to return to the UK. As well as
helping around the school, they have been writing our blog page
since the beginning of the school year. Tony has now taken over
both the blog and supporting Helen too in the office, for the
next few months.
School is busy with
completing registration for the final (late) students to start.
All 3 of the nursery classes (90 children) lined up around their
new classroom to pose for a photo. The new nursery wing contains
a large classroom, toilets, drinking fountain and storage area.
Whilst it is not quite finished, the classroom provides great
teaching space for the youngest class. Funds given to us from a
Winchester area church (Hampshire Downs Catholic parish -
Covenant with the Poor) have made this all possible and we are
very grateful for their help.
One of our successful
formal students, Batou Sanneh, came into see us to collect a
birthday present, sent out from the UK. It is nice to meet up
with the ex-students and see them fulfilling successful lives.
Batou has 2 jobs at the moment; one as cashier in a restaurant
and she also teaches cookery to other students now in another
Skills Centre. Batou has also been very enterprising and it’s
wonderful to see her grow in confidence, building on the start
that her sponsorship at Sunrise gave her.
At the beginning of
term we found out our National Assessment Test (NAT) results.
Similar to the UK’s SAT exams, these are Gambia wide
assessments, marked centrally and used to grade school and
teaching progress, as well as students. Our 9/10 year olds in
Lower Basic Grade 3 achieved a fabulous overall 88% pass rate.
The weakest area was maths, but the education department is
working on this! One of our girls got an average score of 94% in
all her exams. Great stuff and well done to teachers and
students plus volunteers who helped too!
Every year we seem to get a youngster with
a larger than life personality. This year it is Mallick Sarr,
pictured in the hall with Helen. Mallick will grow quickly into
Sunrise we hope and his new shorts too!
Mrs Cham is back in Sunrise after the
birth of her daughter, Haddy. Mrs Cham sometimes shows off her
“pride and joy” to the other members of the Sunrise team. Today
it was another of our ex-students (Yassin Jammeh) cuddling Haddy
at break time. Yassin, joining Sunrise as a Nursery Classroom
Assistant, is one of the latest additions to the growing numbers
of Sunrise staff, having been in Skills 3 last year. We now have
27 members of staff at Sunrise, including 2 teachers on
attachment from Gambia College teacher training course.
Week ending 16th October
We congratulate Fatoumata Darboe, who
teaches Lower Basic Grade 2, on being successful in her
application for a place on the Primary Teaching Certificate
course at Gambia College. There are always many more applicants
than spaces on the course, which lasts for three years. All the
students on this course are already teaching in schools and
college attendance is mainly during the school holidays.
Fatou Cham, who teaches Lower Basic 3, is on her second year of
this PTC course.
Here is a group from Mrs
Cham's present Grade 3 class reading aloud to the rest of the
class from their Integrated Studies text book. We hope that,
when it is their turn to sit the National Assessment Tests at
the end of this school year, they will get as good results as
the Grade 3 class which Mrs Cham taught last year.
The welders have been busy
all this week as work on erecting the different pieces of
equipment for the playground starts to take place.
Before returning to the UK this week,
Ruth presented Sunrise with many gifts of puzzles, books, games
and tennis balls from her golf club and other friends back home.
The children below were delighted when she showed them how to
make themselves a bracelet each using one of her gifts.
All the Lower Basic classes are enjoying
learning how to introduce themselves to people using a new
Week ending 9th October
Four members of the School Management
Committee came in for a chat after school on Monday.
Tourists are slowly
beginning to arrive for the start of the season. A plane from
Germany this week brought Christoph Bruns and his wife, who
sponsor Fateh Manneh in Skills. He is a teacher and, like Dawn,
has seen how much is scrapped (or available to other schools)
when new schools open or furniture is replaced in European
schools. He hoping he can arrange to send a container with
resources both for SOS schools and also for Sunrise.
Following on from talk of
sending containers to Gambia, Binta Drammeh, an externally
sponsored student, came in to collect her fees for this academic
year. Her sponsor, Karl Ward, of Carry Cargo, helped us to send
our last container to Sunrise.
Three more visitors this week were from
Food Safety and Quality Authority, who were checking to see if
we were doing all the improvements they had requested- such as
enclosing the cooking area of the Bantaba (picture in last
week's blog). They were pleased to see Susan, who prepares the
free breakfast for the nursery children, wearing her new
uniform., another of their many requests.
The Lower Basic boys
regularly play football on the sports area during their break,
whilst the girls' favourite pastime at the moment is playing clapping
games under the tree.
Ali Bah is enjoying working
in his brand new classroom, though he and the students had
problems walking from the hall to the new classroom every time
the rain left the pathway a sea of mud! We haven't had much rain
this week, so all are hoping the rainy season has come to an
Week ending 2nd October
The rain continues -
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday -
but no rain at Bakoteh on Friday! The potholes and dips on the
road from Amsterdam Trading to school are still full of water,
but hopefully we are coming to the end of the rainy season and
everywhere will dry out.
The cookery half of the Bantaba now
has windows and a door to satisfy the health and hygiene
inspector - although our students are more used to cooking in
the open outside their houses when they are at home.
French is now a compulsory subject in
the Lower Basic school so we have a student in her final year at
Gambia Teacher Training College with us this year. Here she is
with Fatou Sanneh, who is helping us with talking to Madame - as
French is the first language of both of these teachers!
Here are some of our new
Nursery 1 with their teacher, Mrs Jawara, in the new nursery
Here are some of the older
nursery children eating their tapalapa filled with fish and
spaghetti whilst enjoying their morning break.
Ida Jobe in Lower Basic
in Grade 3 is still hoping to find a sponsor.
See more about her on our
Need Sponsors webpage.
Week ending 25th
Ruth, Dawn and Paul
arrived in Gambia on 19th to be greeted by thunder and
lightning. There have been thunderstorms with heavy rain every
day this week.
Cars splash their way along the main
highway and shoppers have to wade back to the cars they left in
the car park.
Registration for the
new school year started the previous week, but school was closed
to visitors this week because of the Tobaski holiday.
Eric our builder and his
men were busy finishing off jobs in the new classroom, such as
painting the new blackboards.
However there were
many jobs for Helen and the three of us to do, getting ready for
school to start next week. Here is Ruth is busy with the
Despite being busy
preparing for Tobaski, some of the teachers called in to help
get the classrooms ready for next Monday. Fatou
Sanneh and Edrissa Beyai are here in one of the Lower Basic
classrooms with Dawn
More news and pictures next
6th September 2015
On 6th September we had the GETS Charity AGM,
held this year in Banbury, Oxfordshire. Many thanks to those of our supporters
who met with the
Trustees in order to supervise the formal business of reviewing
the past year and forming
a new 2015/6 team to run the charity. We are presently looking
for a couple more trustees to join us - any offers?
Our thanks go to Ina
Bakker for organising the AGM this year in her home
town. Have we a supporter who would like to find a venue in
their home town for our next AGM?
Look out for more
issues of the Blog soon as our school and charity office open up in
time for the next school term, starting at the end of September
- after Tobaski.