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Week ending 23rd December 2016

 Being the last week of term we had lost several teachers to do training in Gambia Teacher Training College, which they attend during the holidays, including the last week of each term. The remaining teachers cover their absence with many special events. The pictures show the girls in Skills Training playing a hard fought football match.

Mr Ali Bah managing a quiz in the hall for the Lower Basic and Skills students, Questions are addressed to one year at a time. Things like "Who can tell me the planet furthest from the Sun?" Several different answers to this now but "Pluto" was the correct answer in our school!

Nursery classes continue as normal. The picture shows Mrs Kaddy Jawara and her classroom assistant (Fatoumata B Sanneh) working with jig saws and other puzzles in our well equipped Nursery 1 (aged 3/4). The children learn English as well as the many other skills that the teachers introduce. Many of their parents don't speak English at home so this is quite a challenge, but all classes are taught in English throughout The Gambia.


 We had the 2016 challenge to produce a Christmas card design. This year won by Muhammed Jallow (from LB3 aged 9). Muhammed's card has been animated now and sent to all our supporters with a big thank you for helping in all that we do!


Isatou A Jallow (LB5 aged 11) was second


Rohey Sallah (LB5 aged 11) was in third place.

 Isatou and Rohey are great artists and featured high up the ranking in last years competition too.

 School closes now until 9th January for the Christmas break.

Week ending 16th December 2016

This is the penultimate week of term and the last full week. We have been doing exams and the teachers are concentrating on producing results and writing up reports.  LB2 Teacher Fatoumata Darboe and classroom assistant Fatoumatta Singhateh are working in the corridor outside the classrooms whilst a Religious Study lesson is taken inside by another teacher.

As we get near the end of term Helen has been shopping for next term's school feeding programme. Skills students unload the car, with plenty of laughter!


 Although it looks a bit chaotic, things do arrive at our store intact and our school cook, Susan Jarju, makes sure things are locked away securely ready for next term.

 Elsewhere in the school life continues quite normally. The children from Nursery have break at 10.30 every day and enjoy the playground equipment or sit around talking whilst they have their breakfast.

Week ending 9th December 2016

This week we have the results of our Nursery 3 completion; who have been writing a “Letter to Toby Little”. As we said last week this to answer some more questions from Toby, the five and a half year old boy who first decided to write a letter to countries (in October 2013) all over the world asking “Dear World, how are you?”.  Toby’s mum has now produced a book of all the replies, including one from The Sunrise Centre on behalf of The Gambia.
The class worked very hard with the help of their teacher, Fatou Sanneh, who came in specially from maternity holiday to assist the children. The picture shows Isatou Ceesay working in class.


Two of the best letters (and drawings) came from Ndey Fatou Faal, with Muhammed Njie a close second, both pictured, aged nearly 7.

Tony will take Ndey’s letter back to the UK to send onwards to Toby nearer Christmas.

Helen had more visitors this week; Steve Turton and Paul Z came to see if they could pay for a daughter of a friend in the skills centre, as a sponsorship placement. Her name is Helena Fata and she is from Guinea-Bissau. She is now doing an attachment trial to see how she gets on, due to her poor English abilities. She is fluent in Portuguese and Creole but the teachers aren’t! Other students are offering to help but time will tell how this works out.


 We still have a few students coming for school fees. This week it was the Mendy family with their uncle Besenty, who looks after them. The boys; Anthony, Peter and Paul are well into their education now and although things have not been easy recently, they all promised to try harder.


We were also pleased to have supporters Christopher Hill and his mum Tracy come to see us. They help with school fees for Sohna Jallow (aged 6) in Nursery 3. We also had her friendJane Derry and her mum Joyce come to see us with the Hills. All are pictured in Mrs Cham’s class G4 listening to the lesson about the geography of Africa and how The Gambia fits into such a large continent.

 Jane helps Bubacarr Cessay in Nursery 2 with his school fees (pictured here together).



Jane and Tracy were also caught on camera admiring Mrs Sally Cessay (Nursery 2) and her very young son (Tombong). Sally is away on maternity leave but we were very pleased that she came into see us.

Week ending 2nd December 2016

 On Monday we entertained our good friends and long time supporters, David and Valerie Allen. They had a chance to look around and see how we had spent some of their money, also posing with the Nursery children who were having their morning break. Valerie also sat for a nice photo with Fatoumata Binta Jallow from Nursery 1, our youngest age group. It’s good that we manage to continue to impress our visitors with progress in the Sunrise Centre. Thanks to all for their help in funding our projects.

On Tuesday we were pleased that Fatou Sanneh, our Nursery 3 teacher (who is on maternity leave), came into see us with her baby; Musa. Fatou came to work with the N3 class on a special project for a couple of hours. This project was to answer some more questions from Toby Little. Toby was the five and a half year old boy who first decided to write a letter to countries (in October 2013) all over the world asking “Dear World, how are you?”.  Toby’s mum has now produced a book of all the replies, including one from The Sunrise Centre on behalf of The Gambia. More next week on answering Toby’s new questions in Nursery 3.





We also had another group of GETS supporters who came to see how we are doing from. Mum and Dad; Pat and Geoff Taylor with daughters Tori and Jenny. Jenny, newly married, brought her husband Chris on his second trip to see us. They all help us by sponsoring a number of students throughout the centre who would have otherwise stopped coming to school since their families can’t afford the ongoing fees. The picture shows the Taylor family in the morning breakfast queue for a sandwich and drink, behind the Nursery children.

 Later Tori and Jenny talked to the local village ladies who sell food and drink to some of the children before they bought chilled Wanjo juice. All who tried this cold drink enjoyed it on another hot day!


This week was very short due to Wednesday, Thursday and Friday being scheduled as Bank Holidays for the Presidential Elections on 1st December. This is a very important time for the country and its people. On Monday and Tuesday we still had school of course, though numbers were down as some families had to travel to the outlying villages where they were registered to vote in the elections.










Week ending 25th November 2016

Tony Bound and Erica Wren came back again to help us this week. Tony teaching cookery to some of the skills training students in the Bantaba. The students were very interested to exchange ideas with Tony about preparation of food and hygiene. Tony also conducted an interesting review of some of the students daily nutrition and calorie intake which he hopes to analyse and feedback to Mrs Alimatou Jammeh (our Cookery teacher). An interesting learning experience for students and teacher!

 Both Erica and Tony carried lots of easy reading books to Gambia - thank you to our friends at Haven books, Kings Lynn for their donation.

They also brought books for our library reference area (collected from many sources by Erica herself). The photo shows some of the lovely books that Erica collected and brought for us.

Tony experimenting with one of the educational games they brought for the nursery!



Erica and Tony also brought inflatable globes, for older students, and jigsaws and toys to help our younger children with their learning.


Thanks to them for all their help and gifts and support, particularly to our Skills Training area.

 Good to see that our playground is still getting loads of activity and challenge from all the younger children at break time.

Questions like “How many girls fit on the swing bar frame?” or “How to fly on the see-saw?”
Lovely to see them clearly having such great fun.

Note that No children were hurt in answering these questions!

Week ending 18th November 2016

We were pleased to have a visit to Sunrise from our friends and long-time fundraisers Angela Longoni-Sarr and Johnnie Walker. The picture shows Angela with new husband Mansa Ndow posing in the playground that Angela helped us to fund. Good luck to the “Happy Couple”.

 Another big event this week was a non-uniform day on Friday, called Mufti Day. This is the day when students and pupils proudly come to school in their local tribal traditional dress. Students pay a small fee to do this, supporting school funds and the best dressed receive prizes.

Mr Darboe posed in one of the Skills Training Classrooms with just some of the students who had dressed up.

We were delighted to welcome back Tony Bound and Erica Wren, long time supporters of Sunrise. Both helped with classroom activities and observations.  We also put Tony to work on Mufti Day taking some wonderful photos! 

Erica is seen here with Fatoumatta Krubally (LB2) who won a prize for her Mandinka bride's dress.

We  have a picture of Abdoulie Sanyang in Mandinka tribal dress (N2)



 Here is Fatima Singhateh (LB1) as a lovely Mandinka bride.


We caught a lovely picture of Sally Gomez (as a Serahule) and Binta Dembo (as a Fula).


Aminata Mbakeh (LB3) was dressed beautifully as a Fula bride.


Many other pupils and students were presented with prizes and awards that were received gratefully. When asked the question “Who wants to win next year?” all the hands shot up at once!


Week ending 11th November 2016

At Sunrise we love to get visitors coming to see us and during the Tourist season we getting a steady stream on our preferred days of Tuesday and Thursday, often coming in groups.

Today we had Barbara and Barry (Trustee) Young, Rudy and Yolanda Nachtegaal and a new supporter, Ali Clowes visit.


We were able to capture pictures of Barbara and Barry giving gifts to the students that they sponsor, Maryam Badjie (Skills 2) and Aji Mboob (LB 3). Both were clearly delighted to get presents from the UK.


Rudy and Yolanda, our friends from Holland, brought us many types of resources, including a new school clock. Something that we are very grateful for since our clocks tend to clog up with sand and humidity!


All our visitors posed together with some of the Lower Basic school children in our Hall, which was re-painted after last year's graduation. 


Over the summer we changed the leaky wooden windows in our library for new aluminium windows using cash from one of our supporters, Karl Jackson and given in the name of his late wife, Kare. We just need to complete the security bars and painting to complete this work.

Shelving has already been finished inside the library and soon we can begin to organise the books we have already and collect new ones.


Our garden has also benefitted from clearing the weeds that flourish during the rainy season. These will be burned after drying.

 We also had a number of new posters, including this one of the African continent that ended up in the Skills Training classroom.

Week ending 4th November 2016

The Sunrise school is thriving! We don’t advertise much but we have managed to attract 315 children now to the school. The classes are pretty much all full and the hall regularly often shows fantastic activity. Today some of the Skills Training students are learning restaurant serving practice and their teacher, Mrs Jammeh, has had them cooking omelettes to serve and feed the waiting students.

The crowds in the hall are enlarged by a Lower Basic class going to PE on our Sports Area and the Nursery School at break.

The Nursery children collect their sandwich and drinks (free of charge) and the benches in the hall allow small groups to sit eat (and talk too, of course).





The Lower Basic PE lesson often has small groups waiting to take part. Today we caught on camera some girls playing a clapping game. This takes intense concentration whilst others look on.

 Skills Training Year 1 students have been using paper from the office paper shredder to make papier mache models and pots.

The students pose with their craft teacher, Mr Darboe, pointing at their work. The student judged as producing one of the best decorated items (a bowl with lid) was Efframcey Jarjue. Efframcey is an unusual name. Her family are from the Jola tribal background and Efframcey is a Christian.





Week ending 28th October 2016

Fatou Sanneh came in to school to show everyone her new baby, Musa Stephen. He slept throughout the whole visit!

Nursery 1 are showing that they have been learning about the days of the week and putting them in the right order.

The skills classes have been busy with tie'n'dye and batik practicals this week. Here they are beginning to prepare the material for their batik patterns.

Below you can see the tie'n'dye class starting with carefully gathering rosettes in lengths of white cloth in order to make the patterns which appear after dying the material with different colours.



After the first dip in the dye, the cloth is laid out to dry before being dyed again with a different colour.


Then the cloth is hung out to dry in the sun while the students wash the bowls and clear all the equipment away till next time.

Ruth returned to the UK this week but before she left she was thanked for all  her help and presented with a dress made by the sewing students.

Week ending 21st October 2016

There are still places available in Skills Year 1 and people  continue to come into the office inquiring about the course. Here Georgette is explaining the admission procedure to one of the potential students.

This week Alimatou has been doing practical cookery on finger food with Year 3 Skills students. Below some of them are busily chopping meat to make little savoury pies and parcels.

They also made small sponge cakes topped with wanjo sauce and a leaf decoration - absolutely delicious!

Year 2  learnt how a basic sponge mixture can be changed to give different flavours, so made either vanilla or chocolate sponge cake.

A lot of well beaten eggs were used to make the vanilla and chocolate sponges!


Although girls fill most of the spaces in our skills classes, there are some boys, four of them in Year 2.

Sainabou was pleased to show me her vanilla sponge mixture ready for the oven!

When cooked and cool students decorated a large sponge  cake with buttercream icing piped all around it

Alimatou is displaying the result!









Week ending 14th October 2016

This is Binta Jammeh who has joined Sunrise as another temporary teaching assistant while three of our regular nursery staff are on maternity leave. She is delighted to be here and hopes there might be a chance of a permanent job one day.

Ruth, one of our regular volunteer helpers, returned to Sunrise this week. A retired teacher, she turns her hand to anything, in and out of the classroom, so here she is using the spiral binder to make schemes of work books for the Lower Basic teachers. Note the water bottle, we are having problems with our water supply. NAWEC say they will lay new pipes to give us a better supply, but the pipes they need are 'not in this country'. I think this statement might make regular visitors to Gambia smile!

  It continues to be hot and humid. Looking at the weather sites on the internet the other day it gave Kololi as 35 degrees real temperature and below that said 'feels like 50 degrees'. Below you can see that Yassin has taken Nursery 3 out of their hot classroom into the shade of the Bantaba for a lesson.

Erica, another of our regular visitors, saw last week's blog with the Lower Basic doing PE near a big tree and sent me this picture taken soon after the tree had been planted in December 2010. The watchman is proudly showing off his new spade and fork, kindly donated by Tools with a Mission. The picture might puzzle some regular visitors as it was taken before the wall between us and the women's compound was built, so the buildings in the background are not part of Sunrise, you can just see a bit of the wall in last week's picture with the tree.

Erica said the tree was a symbol of GETS project so

'Of course it grows - it's at Sunrise!'

Week ending 7th October 2016

Our Cluster Monitor, Mr Jarju, paid his usual beginning of term visit this week, checking up that all the Lower Basic teachers had done their registers and were working according to the timetable.

Some of our new Skills 1 students are here in the sewing room, learning how to use a treadle sewing machine.





 The Nursery 1 children are getting used to coming to school and are enjoying learning new things. Some of them are here, with their teacher, Kaddy Jawara and her assistant Fatou, learning to sing an action rhyme.

It is very hot here now - 33 or 34 degrees every day, but because it is humid not dry heat, it feels even hotter than that! Despite the heat though the children like to go out for PE, here are some of Lower Basic Grade 2 playing a chasing game, while others try to "hula-hoop"

Week ending 30th September 2016

During the summer holiday there were heavy rains and very strong winds causing a lot of damage. Fortunately our buildings were not damaged although the internet supply was and had to be replaced.

Lessons restarted on 26th September, although the school had already been open the previous week for new pupils to register for a place at Sunrise.

Sponsored students from other schools were also coming into the office to collect cheques to pay for their school fees. Here is Neneh Kenteh ( sponsored by Lynda Clarke) when she came to collect her fees for New Covenant Upper Basic School.

One new face at Sunrise this term is Ousman Jaiteh, our new teacher in Lower Basic Grade 1. Like our other  two male Lower Basic teachers, he teaches at Sunrise in the morning then goes a few yards down the road to teach in the afternoon shift at Bakoteh Proper Lower Basic.



Another new face is Fatou B Sanneh, who has joined us as a nursery assistant on a temporary basis until our three nursery staff return from maternity leave.

Dawn and Paul are back in Gambia again, pleased to see old friends and meet new.  Paul will be found in the office as usual, working on the accounts!

The children too seem pleased to be back at school!



AGM 2016 Macclesfield


 Exerpt from the trustees report -


We have now received accreditation from the NAQAA ( previously the NTA) to offer courses in Tailoring, Home Craft and Cookery & Pastry. Our Skills Training Centre is therefore officially recognized by the Gambian authorities, subject to their oversight and benefitting from their expertise. Students graduating from the Sunrise Centre will therefore now hold a nationally accredited certificate.

From work completed last year, we have been able to bring in 30 extra children (aged 3-4) into the new nursery classroom. The Nursery School now holds 90 children (up 33%). We were also able to bring in extra students for Skills Training due to our enlarged facilities, completed previously. This has allowed us to enlarge Skills Training to 120 places (up 25%)

Work on the outdoor play equipment is complete, and is being put to good use by the children! We have added a drinking fountain and have a second to commission when water pressure allows.

We have an additional Lower Basic class starting in September, Grade 5, and a qualified teacher has been appointed. The Lower Basic School now has 150 places. French was added to the Lower basic Curriculum this year. Two students from Gambia Training College were in Sunrise throughout the year on work placement training, one teaching French and one teaching Needlework, both graduated successfully from the college this summer, Two additional classroom assistants have been appointed one for Nursery and one for Lower Basic.

As in previous years the majority of students graduating from our Skills Training Centre have obtained jobs following the completion of their work experience schemes.

We currently have five teachers on training courses, as part of our policy to raise standards in the school –1 doing ECD, 3 doing PTC and 1 doing a diploma in cookery.

Government support, in the form of Gift Aid, was £6,900 this year - 17% of our income.

We continue to sponsor individual students, 62 at Sunrise and 51 at other schools.

We have continued to receive the support of a number of volunteers.

The flow of donations to fund our expenses has been maintained- a large part of these donations, approximately £12,000, are regular monthly payments and one off payments from our long standing supporters.

We have a number of substantial building projects planned, subject to appropriate funding.
Those already funded, contracted for and commenced are:-

·        Increase height of compound wall ( for security reasons)

·        Improve water supply to classrooms ( including installation of pump)

·        Library improvements - new windows (aluminium) and shelving

Planned projects include a new staff toilet block and a concrete fire escape from the upper floor of the Lower Basic.