The latest news from
GETS in Gambia



Week ending 20th  March 2020

On Wednesday, March 18th, the day the first coronavirus case was confirmed,  President Adama Barrow declared that all public gatherings were suspended henceforth for the next 21 days in the bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus (covid-19) - so of course school is now closed.

As the nursery trip to the camel farm at Tanji had already taken place here are some photos to end the blog on a more cheerful note!

Arriving at the farm and being sorted into groups.

The man at the farm explained that their camels had been brought in from Daara Jollof in Senegal and were specially trained to be used to being with humans so that visitors could get close to them. This meant that all the children  who wanted to were able to sit on a camel andwhen they were back at school they drew pictures of this.



So many wanted their picture taken with the camel you can hardly see the camel!

Of course their teachers wanted their picture taken too.

Every trip always ends up with a picnic on the beach

The blog will restart when school is allowed to reopen.

We wish all our readers well during these difficult days.

Week ending 13th  March 2020

9th March was Commonwealth Day and was celebrated at Sunrise in many different ways. All dressed as a member of the Commonwealth,  they gathered by the school gate ready to march through the streets around Sunrise.

N3 pupils dressed as President Adama Barrow and his First Lady led the procession, with the Minister of Education (in turquoise) and


After arriving back at Sunrise the students gathered in the hall facing the High Table where presidents and officials of various Commonwealth countries were sitting ready to watch the celebrations.

Proceedings began with a group representing Britain singing the national anthem, waving the flag and giving a brief history of the Commonwealth.

The Queen of England and her entourage

  This was followed by the nursery children singing the national anthem of The Gambia, waving the Gambian flag and reading a brief history of The Gambia


Fatou Deammeh, N1, in her traditional dress

Lower Basic 1 then sang the national anthem of Sierra Leone, waved the flag and spoke about Sierra Leone.

Lower Basic 2 represented Nigeria, and Lower Basic 3 represented South Africa.

This was followed by a song from the choir, trained by Mr Williams.

Lower 4 then represented Ghana, Lower Basic 5 Jamaica, and Lower Basic 6 Uganda.

There was then a short presentation about the different cultures and their food, and the day ended with more singing.

Week ending 6th  March 2020

Every term we have a Mufti Day when the students come in their traditional attire. As you can see it's a very colourful day!

Here is Adama Saine from Lower Basic grade 6 in her traditional Serere attire, with the addition of a Sunrise Centre T-shirt!

This group are happy as they were all prize winners in the Mufti Day competitions.

  Chris and Steve have been with us since the beginning of this term so I thought it time for an update on their many and varied activities. Chris spends a lot of time in the nursery and the library, here she is helping a girl catch up with her reading.

Steve spends all his time working on the many and varied maintenance jobs that arise at Sunrise. This blog has mentioned problems with the NAWEC water supply in the Bakoteh district. Here Steve is painting the underside of the cover to a pump which was put in to pump water each night to a storage tank at the top of the Lower Basic building. During the night more water is available due to less local demand and pumping then means we have water available during school hours.

Nursery 1 had this colourful way of showing numbers - the girl in the middle was essential as the numbers fitted together like a jigsaw and without her the line collapsed!

The Lower Basic girls continue to amaze us with their agility in this popular skipping game.

Week ending 28th February 2020

Several visitors this week - first friends of Chris, here with Steve, Fay, Stephanie and Maddie.

Angela Gourlay came to see the boy she sponsors, Abubacarr, but sadly I missed taking her photo. Ingrid van Zon came with her husband, Mark,  their daughters, Anna and Frederique and a large suitcase full of gifts for Sunrise, thank you very much! Ingrid and Mark had been to Sunrise before, about three years ago and were pleased to see how things had developed since then.

Our skills classes do many other things besides the cooking and batik often shown in the blog. They have valuable discussions about Life Skills under the supervision of Mr Darboe, make clothes under the supervision of Fatou Nyassi, have classes in English and numeracy, and here they are having a quiet moment engrossed in knitting or crochet. 

The tree planted near the skills classrooms and the bantaba a couple of years ago is growing well now, so no longer needs to be protected from the energetic games taking place during during PE and break as it was in this earlier photo,
Hopefully this tree will provide the extra shade needed during very hot weather  -  we are experiencing this at the moment although now is normally the coolest time of the Gambian year.

Ruth went back home this week after giving much appreciated help in the office with general administration and helping in the library during the past three weeks. Here she is sorting out and repairing a jigsaw she came across whilst checking the stock of textbooks in a classroom cupboard.

Another quiet moment in the library, Ruth and Sainabou hearing reading and Dawn discussing phonics with Mr Williams.

Week ending 21st February 2020

A sign that cookery practical sessions are under way in the bantaba! The stools are needed for students copying recipes and other theoretical sessions but are in the way during practical work.

Today they are cooking fish and chips.

The fish was dipped in a spicy sauce, then placed on a piece of foil.

Then they added some diced vegetables and wrapped it all up in a parcel ready to cook.


Some of the fish was grilled outside the bantaba on local stoves using charcoal. The chips were cooked on the local stoves here too.

Perhaps some of the students preferred chicken to fish as they were also cooking chicken in batter outside.

Lots of happy faces here as Nursery 1 were enjoying singing, clapping and dancing with their teacher, Sally Ceesay.

Nursery 3 were industriously colouring in different shapes when I took this photo, although I did get a suspicious look from one girl as I popped my head through the open door!

Lower Basic 1 were also studying shapes in their maths lesson, looking at some common objects in their text books, comparing them to shapes they knew, then saying how many faces that shape had.

Week ending 14th February 2020

Denise Green, who helped in the office at Sunrise before moving to Spain, came to see us again, bringing her sister-in-law and her daughter to have a look at Sunrise.

Nursery assembly is always a lively time as the children sing and clap with their teachers.

Paul was seen out and about during the Lower Basic break looking for photos for the blog. Despite the heat the boys were energetically playing their game!

When Paul reached Nursery 1 some children on the red table by the door turned round to see what he was doing. The class was having a phonics lesson recognising the sounds and shapes of 's' and 'a'.



Having drawn their patterns onto white bazin with beeswax, the students in this skills class were ready to add colour using various dyes

At the end of the procss they were laying their material out on the hall floor.

We got a lovely smile from this skills student sitting quietly decorating a pair of flip flops for her friend.

Week ending 7th February 2020

This week Louise, Dawn and Paul's other daughter, made her first visit to Sunrise. Here she is with  Jojo as the girls in the Skills 2 cookery class said that they looked like twins!

Skills 1 were making different combinations of fruit smoothies. Here a  pineapple was being carefully prepared to keep all the goodness without wasting any of the fruit.

The slices of peeled water melon had all their seeds removed, the apples were peeled, cored and sliced then kept in a covered bowl of water so they did not go brown, lemons and oranges were peeled, sliced and seeds removed. Bananas, peeled and sliced were ready to add to any of the various fruit mixes or put aside to make a milkshake.

After all the preparation came the fun of blending the prepared fruits to make a variety of smoothies - followed by enjoying drinking the results! 

The library is popular with every visitor to Sunrise, Louise happy to help with hearing the children read. Perhaps I should add at this point that both Gabi and Louise are recently retired teachers.


 Because the weather is so hot the LB1 girls congregated under the biggest tree in Sunrise to take advantage of the shade during PE. Whilst the boys were playing football the girls were having fun with clapping, singing and dancing games.

Watching them were two nursery girls, waiting for older sisters to finish school and take them home.

Skills 2 were making cupcakes this week. Jojo is mixing the ingredients whilst Modou Lamin is preparing the trays ready for filling with the cake mix and putting in the oven to bake.

You can see that none got burnt! After the cupcakes are baked comes the fun bit, decorating them with pink and white icing.

The final touches of blue and they are done.

Steve sampling the finished product - I won't put the picture that came next, after a big bite!

Week ending 31st January 2020

This week Paul and Dawn, two of GETS' Trustees arrived at Sunrise with their daughter, Gabi, and her husband, David. Although Gabi and David had been to Africa before this was their first visit to Gambia and Sunrise. They really enjoyed seeing Sunrise and spent a lot of time in the library.

Students in our skills classes have a wide range of reading ability and whilst some are happy choosing from the wide range of books available there are some who have never mastered reading. Our librarian, Sainabou, makes a point of helping those who are not yet fluent readers. so is pleased when visitors and regular volunteers hear students read, giving them extra help and encouragement.

It is far hotter than usual for this time of year in Gambia so we are very pleased that the tree planted in the middle of the playground has grown enough to give a little bit of shade when the children are having their morning break.


As our LB6 teacher is currently on paternity leave, Sulayman Jobe, one of our recently qualified primary teachers, was taking his class for maths.


Maths in Nursery 1 involved much lower numbers! They were recognising numbers up to 10  and singing songs like 'Ten little fingers'

Although the nights are cooler (20-23degrees} the daily top temperatures for Banjul on the BBC weather site vary between 38 and 42 degrees-  so the garden needs a lot of watering!

Week ending 24th January 2020


 It's good to see the Skills Training students displaying practical work that is finished and ready to wear. This time it was a shirt, made by Binta Sonko from Skills year 2. She was very proud of her work and with good reason!




Each week the sound of children singing comes loud and clear from the hall. The Nursery children were "acting out" songs with one of their teachers, Mrs Sally Ceesay. They were certainly in good voice and it always seems to get the children energised in the mornings.



We are delighted that our long term supporters and friends, Chris and Steve Humphries are with us again. Chris does many things for us including helping with the youngsters who struggle with reading. Steve (pictured) helps us maintain our second hand classroom chairs. These were brought to Gambia after the end of their life in a UK school so they've lasted well, really. However Steve has to regularly put them back together, discarding the ones with the worst damage.



Steve has also lined up a set of chairs to go to the welder-man, nearby, who patches up any broken metal work to give chairs a third or fourth life!





Weeks ending 17th January 2020

School has now restarted after the Christmas break and the school is looking good, thanks to our wonderful cleaner, Awa Nyassi, who cleans the whole school now. Our previous cleaner has left to further her education and Awa wants to see if she can manage since the extra cash is really welcome.

 Break time is pretty normal with ad hoc games, including French skipping, whilst others just chat. The mornings are cool now (under 20C) and children often wear extra clothes under their uniforms until the day warms to the normal 30-35C.



More formal games take place on the sports area. Margret Mendy (LB Head girl) is supervising an LB2 game of football.


At the end of every day some of the Nursery children, who finish at 1230, have to wait more than an hour for older brothers and sisters, who are in classes elsewhere in Sunrise, before going home. This time can be boring for the children and although they play or chat, sometime there are problems for staff to sort out.