20th December 2013
This week, the last of our Autumn term, saw
two more of our long term supporters, Angela Longi-Sarr and
Johnny Walker., visiting Sunrise. Here is Angela helping the
skills students to make biscuits.
The Cookery Teacher,
Mrs Alimatou Jammeh, was also there of course and she is
seen here showing off some of the different biscuit shapes.
working with the skills students to make and wrap 234 Christmas
The purpose of all of
this was to feed some of the Tourists in the Senegambia area
where Sunrise held a Skills Craft Fair (Thanks to Mike and GTS
bar and Restaurant). Helen, Denise Green and Angela staffed the
event with help from our Cookery Teacher, Alimatou, and three
skills students. Donations were given to the school in exchange
for ALL these biscuits, jewellery, rag-rugs, tie ‘n dye scarves
and other items. It was a successful event considering the area
was a little quiet before the Christmas rush.
Back in Sunrise we had
the normal end of term games of football and story reading in
The football pitch
will be quite different soon after the sports area is built in
A big event in Skills
that took place late last week was an excursion to the Roots
Museum at Albreda near Kunta Kinteh Island (formally known as
James Island). The students and staff are shown pictured here on
the small jetty where boats moor on the Island. More on this in
our Autumn newsletter plus an excellent report by Sulayman Jobe
(Head Boy) on the trip.
The Sunrise Centre is
now closed until the New Year, when the blog will continue.
Best wishes and
compliments of the season to all of our readers.
We were delighted to take delivery of a
surprise gift presented by Tony Bound to our English and Maths
Teacher, Mr Ali Bah. A single “face2face” book has been with Ali
for some time now as a teachers aid but we were delighted that
we now have 16 more (1 book to share between 2 students). These
expensive but brilliant English textbooks were funded by our
long time supporters Tony and Erica Bound clubbing together with
their good friends Tom and Mary Iken to afford these for us. We
are very, very grateful. It was a shame not to see Tom and Mary
but Mary has been suffering with ill health. We wish her well.
Each year the
students all enjoy a “Mufti Day”. On this day they pay a small
fee into school funds to come into school without their
uniforms, usually dressing in their local “Tribal” costumes or
something unusual. The pictures here show our prize winners in
Nursery 1 and 2 with their teachers.
The Skills students
are shown here being awarded a voucher for cash by Sue Nelson
(following a short straw competition because the result was too
close to decide). The Skills costumes show the traditional dress
of one girl from the Fula tribe and two from the Mandinka tribe.
Now whenever Africans
get together to celebrate they nearly always end up dancing and
Mufty Day was no different. The youngsters put on a fabulous
show, with teachers playing the makeshift drums.
One of the things that
we have been moving towards is giving our many supporters and
visitors to Sunrise the opportunity of taking away a “little
piece of Sunrise”, in the shape of some fabric or made up goods
or even jewellery, all made within the school by the skills
training students. The picture shows our good friend Erica Wren
with Marokey Bojang (Skills Classroom Assistant) and the start
of a growing board of necklaces and other items. Of course we
are hopeful that anyone taking home a souvenir will leave us
with a small donation, allowing us to re-invest it in more
practical materials and give the students more chances to
practice their art.
The week began with Sue Nelson, our newest
Trustee and the GETS Secretary, visiting the centre. Sue worked
with Madam Fofana to begin the processes of cutting up materials
for a sale of handmade goods stall at a local fayre. Mr Darboe
was planning to dye the materials and Madam Secka will sew
garments to make up finished goods. Mrs Jammeh will also be
making biscuits with the students to sell.
Later we were
entertained to music and dancing in the Nursery school assembly.
The star was Paul Loppy, a young boy from Nursery 1, who had
obviously spent the first few years of his life watching the
Jola cultural dancers in The Gambia because he enjoyed showing
us all his skills and dance moves!
We have had more and
more visitors and helpers coming to the Centre. At one point
they all collected for a photo during a break in proceedings.
From left to right we have Denise Green, Val Allen, Chris
Humphries, Steve Humphries and last but by no means least David
Allen. They all help us and have done for some time now, to
improve educational facilities in The Gambia, whilst keeping
Transport to and from
the centre comes in many forms but this open top Tourist Taxi
car allows one of our supporters to have an airy ride whist she
can also stop and pose for the occasional picture. Chris
Humphries is one of the coolest ladies around!
Last week we
had a new member of staff start at Sunrise - Madam Isatou Secka.
Madam Secka is a very experienced teacher and also a lecturer at Brikama Teacher
Training College and she joins us as our sewing
teacher in the Skills Training Centre at Sunrise.
We had a visit
to Sunrise this week from Isa Jallow and Jacqui Barlow. Jacqui
wanted Isa to continue her schooling in our centre by helping
her with the fees. Isa is a very bright child who should do very
well in school. She starts in school next week. Jacqui, Helen
and Isa are shown on the steps of the school, together with just
some of the really useful resources which they brought for the
children at Sunrise.
Assembly each week consists of lots of fun songs, usually with
actions. Mbacho Jallow(Classroom Assistant) is seen here
conducting the occasion whilst Fatou Sanneh claps along with the
children. All seem to really enjoy these sessions.
Later in the
week Alimatou came into school with her daughters (Fatoumata
Laye and Mariamma Laye) and a friend too (Abdul Karim Khader).
The smallest (Fatoumata) was modelling a very small version of a
Sunrise teacher uniform, made with some spare cloth. Our
Education Director, Madam Fofana helps to keep the children
still long enough for a picture.
Students have been honing their Tie and Dye skills making
uniform material for the London Corner Nursery school that Helen
also administers, on behalf of a Scottish Charity based in
Dumbarton. The uniform is a bright yellow and black colour,
similar colours to the Partick Thistle Football team that the
parish leader, Father Kenny, supports.
Humphries (and her husband Steve) have been helping in school
for a couple of weeks now, for which we are very grateful. Chris
is pictured here helping Tahir Ahmed Njie with his letters. He has
been struggling with some of the letters but after a little
practice he is doing much better.
Last week saw the arrival of two of the charity Trustees - Paul
and Dawn Webster. They quickly got to work with organising our
store of resources and updating our inventory which included
moving resources from place to place!
The picture below shows Dawn in Nursery 2, Mrs Sanneh’s class,
talking to the children about their work.
We also had a visit from Tessa and Ray Harding and their friend
Steve Kirk. It was Steve’s first time in The Gambia whist Tessa
and Ray have been coming for many years and have supported
children and students during that time, now with the help of
GETS. They were interested to see the skills students busy with
tie and dye and to see Sheriff Tamba
in Nursery 1, a boy whom they sponsor at Sunrise.
Tony caught up with Alimatou and her Year 3 students making a
chocolate sponge cake. The picture shows the students and the
finished object (SRC = Sunrise Centre). The taste was good but
the cake was very, very moist due to a little too much fluid but all learnt a
lesson from this, even the teacher!
Below, one of the caretakers helps students unload material for
making the skirts and trousers for Sunrise uniform.
The car that Helen uses is a huge advantage to the school and is
often used to support this
kind of work. Using local transport takes a lot longer!
An important event left out of the previous week's blog was the
visit to Sunrise of Helian and Tom Hanssen, from Holland. They
are pictured with Lamin Jammeh who brought them to the Centre.
They met Lamin near the hotel and he appealed to them to ask for
sponsorship support for his son, Babacarr, currently in Sunrise
Lower Basic 1. They were pleased to help but wanted to come and
see the school where their money would be going. We told them
all about GETS and how we were helping young people in The
Gambia. They seemed very impressed.
We were delighted to welcome back Chris and Steve Humphries to
Sunrise again. Steve is already getting on with cleaning up the
outside walls of the school after the rains before he adds some
touch up paint to the structure. Pictures of Chris helping too
will follow in future weeks of the blog.
We also had more visitors from Holland later in the week; Lani
Isip (originally from the Phillipines) and Simon de Groot came
to Sunrise after meeting Steven and Chris (see above) on the
beach walking. They told Lani and Simon about all that we are
doing and tempted them to come to see us, bring resources and
goodies for the children. Sendeng is seen in the picture
accepting these on behalf of school.
We also had a visit from long time supporters Angela Thomas and
Rosie Holder. Anj is pictured here presenting a set of wonderful
kitchen knives to Sendeng given by Rosie’s husband Paddy. The
knives were received by Sendeng on behalf of our cookery
teacher, Alimatou Jammeh who doesn’t work every day.
Finally, in a busy week, Tony and Helen went off to meet our
friend and former headmaster from our small Bakoteh nursery
school, Nfamara Jarjue. “Fams” (pictured) was helping us arrange
to buy a sewing machine from the community Woman’s Project, next
door to Sunrise. Their project doesn’t need the machine but we
need to replace one of ours that is beyond economic repair. We
are currently discussing prices!
This week was very
important in the life of the Sunrise Centre. Our new Education
Director, Madam Kaddy Fofana started work with us. Madam Fofana
is known to many at Sunrise already as a Senior Lecturer at the
Brikama Teacher Training College and also as our Skills
Graduation Speaker in 2013. Our Senior Teacher Mr Ali Bah is
seen here welcoming Madam Fofana to the Centre. We look forward
to exciting times as she brings the many new skills and ideas to
improve our standards of education at Sunrise.
After the rains most
people are re-painting their houses. We are the same,
re-painting our sign-board at Sunrise in time for the constant
stream of visitors who want to see what is happening in our
African School. The “painter man”, Sarjo B Camara has made a
great job of the logo and freehand lettering.
Although the school
has long started Marokey Bojang, our Skills Classroom assistant,
continues to make up Nursery School uniforms for students who
join us a little late.
We have a new
volunteer who is coming to help us at Sunrise, Paula Lancaster,
seen here watching the Nursery children at the beginning of
their assembly. Paula brings many skills to the centre and I
hope that she can help us to do many new things that will
feature in these pages.
Sunrise had its first Tourist visitor of
the season on Monday. Alan Pickles came to look around during
his trip to support his own charitable works, at a Senior
Secondary School in Farafenni, on the North Bank. Alan has been
helping Sendeng Suso (our Administrator at Sunrise) for many
years and her family in Lamin, where he often stays during his
Tony learnt all about
prepositions during an English class with Mrs Cham’s LB2 group,
pictured here in their classroom. The lesson was very well given
and all the class understood clearly what was taught, even Tony.
Our Sunrise Garden
continues to develop, under the caring hands of caretaker Seiko
Singhateh. We need to get the children much more involved but
before then Seiko has been distributing the fruit from the
garden - e.g. fresh tomatoes.
Every year, the Team
from Kick Polio out of Africa health group comes to give
vaccinations to the under 5s. The picture shows the process that
each child goes through to help eradicate this dangerous disease
from the whole continent.
Late last year we had to find a new Nursery
1 teacher to take over from Mrs Cham who was moving to teach the
new Lower Basic 2 class this year. We were delighted that Mrs
Sally Ceesay was able to join us after a successful interview.
Mrs Ceesay worked at the Roots Nursery School in Latrikunda
before coming to Sunrise. She has been teaching since 1994.
We had planned to
have enough uniform cloth for the start of term, when we arrange
for uniforms to be provided or give cloth and patterns to
parents for local tailors to sew. However, we ran out. The
picture shows Mr Darboe’s year 2 skills students working on tie
and dye practicals to make some more coloured cloth. The golden
colours are for Nursery and the red for Lower Basic. The open
fire, pots and other items are all part of this process.
This week Mrs Sanneh, our Nursery 2
teacher, has been working on story-telling from a picture book
with the children. The story is about a group of different
African animals stealing fruit from a bowl, carried on a little
girl’s head. The fruit are all different but familiar to Gambian
children. A great way to teach colours, animals, fruits as well
as the story telling process.
At the start of term
Tony brought a letter from a young Sheffield boy,Toby Little,
aged 5. Toby set himself the challenge to write a letter or
postcard to somebody in every country of the world, and receive
a letter/postcard in return – Toby has had 112 replies already.
(See more about Toby at
http://www.writingtotheworld.com ). Toby, with some help
from his mother, Sabine, contacted GETS as a way to get a letter
to children in The Gambia. The Nursery children had a
competition, run with the help of Mrs Sanneh, Mrs Ceesay and
Mbacho Jallow (teaching assistant) to answer the questions that
Toby had sent and reply to Toby. Nyimasata Janteh (Skills 3)
helped answer Toby’s Tie and Dye question. The picture shows the
Nursery 2 class that worked on this with the winner, Margaret
Mendy,and her reply.
Sunrise is closed this week for the Muslim
festival of Tobaski (a Wolof word). One of the Sunrise staff
explained how the day unfolded in their area –
The timing of the holidays is set within the Muslim calendar and
celebrates the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to
sacrifice his young first-born son Ismail (Ishmael) as an act of
submission to Allah's command and his son's acceptance to being
sacrificed, before Allah intervened to provide Ibrahim with a
Lamb to sacrifice instead. To remember this important event,
Gambian families try hard to save the cash required to buy
a sheep (D5000+ for a big one) for slaughter in their compounds.
Sheep for sale at Abuko.
Getting ready for
Tobaski begins well in advance by renovating and decorating the
compound houses and inviting all the family to visit. Even
distant family come from far and wide to return to their home,
some from outside of The Gambia. This often means many people
have to travel from the suburban areas back to the more remote
villages. There are usually many new clothes for the occasion,
ladies dresses can be expensive if bought (from D1,000). Some
also give other gifts at this time too. (Families put as much
into this holy time as Christians do at Christmas in UK.)
Men and some
children attend the Mosque or prayer ground at about 0900 (on
Eid al-Adha) before coming home to kill the sheep, before
cooking begins. Feasting can carry on for some time. The sheep
meat is used to make dishes like Benechin or Stew. Okra, cabbage
and cassava are some of the vegetables that accompany the meat
This is a time for remembering those who
can’t return home and of supporting people who are poor. The
festival lasts 2 days.
Early in the week Tony saw our new Cookery
Teacher. Alimatou Jammeh (the same family name as the
President’s – but no relation) showing the Skills Training
students how to make Hoisin Beef Stir Fry dish. Mrs Jammeh
joined the Sunrise staff at the start of term, teaching on
Mondays and Wednesdays each week.
youngsters at Sunrise are often seen playing or doing more
formal PE outside, sometimes taking advantage of a shady tree.
The picture shows the class of Nursery 2 with their teacher,
Fatou Sanneh, playing a complex game which involves pupils
chasing each other around their class mates.
We are very pleased
that the environment at Sunrise continues to improve, thanks to
the drive of our caretaker, Saikou Singateh. an important member
of staff who has been seen weeding in the rain. “It’s easier to
get the weeds and grass up” he says. He is also keen to see the
right plants growing in the grounds of the school and has a
thriving garden under way. Saikou looks very imposing in his
“Captains” hat and loves posing for the camera!
Sanneh was a former Skills Student at Sunrise. She came back
into Sunrise, during a holiday from her new job at the Four
Seasons cafe on Kairaba Avenue, to collect a gift from Maxine
Beech, who had been helping Batou with school fees in her final
year. The gift was for Batou’s birthday next week and Tobaski
Day, 15 Ocober and the picture shows Tony presenting this to a
delighted Batou! Maxine and Batou regularly keep in touch with
through Facebook, often swapping quite odd messages about their
very different worlds.
The second week of term was quite normal.
Many students were coming to school but some hadn’t paid fees.
We have since told these students to go home until fees are
paid. This results in them returning at some stage with the fees
that are needed to come to school and (in Skills) to do
practical work. This is very hard but we don’t have enough
sponsors to help everyone and we try to help the poorest
Tony brought presents
from Melanie Hinks for the young boy that she sponsors, Sulayman
John (LB1). He looks somewhat surprised by the experience.
Tony also met up with
one of our former students, Elizabeth Loppy. Elizabeth has been
working in a sewing and tailoring shop in Serekunda where she
went on her attachment since the end of her skills course.
Elizabeth came to collect things for her brother, Allen Loppy,
from his sponsor, Richard Beech. Allen is doing a Tourism course
at the Technical College (GTTI) in Kanifing.
Later in the week we
saw Mrs Cham playing a teaching game “What’s the time Mr Wolf?”
with her class from Lower Basic Grade 2 - looking very smart in
their white socks and black shoes.
Friday was tinged with
some sadness again this week as the staff and skills students
all said “Goodbye and good luck” to the Education Director, Mr
Mbye. He is leaving Sunrise after 18 months to work full time on
his Law Degree course and Bar examinations, in order to become a
lawyer. We wish him well. We are now searching to find a new
principal for the centre and Helen is working twice as hard
until we succeed.
This was the first week of school term
that had lots of positives at Sunrise, with a full school of
children, a newly completed Lower Basic School classroom
opened and staff ready to teach. We still have lots to do
and finish but things are going well.
The roads around
Sunrise were still a bit difficult following heavy rains
during the school holidays but people are used to coping and
all seemed to be immaculately turned out in spite of
Students who are sponsored through GETS still continue to
come in ones and twos to queue at Helen’s desk to ask for
fees, present last year’s reports and bring in thanks for
their sponsors, usually with their parent/guardian. Cecilia
Mendy, aged 10 (in G5 at St Frances School in Kunkujang
Mariama) is pictured here the day that she came.
On a very sad note
we heard that our Cookery and Sewing teacher, Mrs Joanna
Mendy, died on Sunday this week, after a short illness over
the summer. Mrs Mendy, aged 60, was to retire at the end of
this week. The whole school were very upset about the loss
of this much respected teacher and member of the local
Bakoteh community. The Skills Training students arranged for
a wreath to be presented and many came with all the staff to
the Christian Funeral Service at a large local church, even
though many were Muslims. The church was full for a service
full of beautiful signing, prayers and respectful words. A
very sad loss of a lovely lady.
from left to right are; our Maths and English teacher (Mr
Ali Bah) with Dresscode Prefect (Kaddy Conteh), Head Girl (Mabintu
Fofana), Local Language Prefect (Amie Camara) and Education
Director (Mr Mbye).
The GETS 2013 Annual General Meeting was
held on Saturday, 31st August. We enjoyed our meeting in
Bickerton Village Hall, kindly hosted by Maxine and Richard
Beech, where a
good number of members were interested to hear about past and future
plans for the charity.
Tony forgot to get a
picture of the whole group but he managed to build a collage
Peter Scorer wasn’t able to attend
during the day but we were delighted that he came in the
evening, with his son (Rick) and daughter-in-Law (Emily).
As with all AGMs there was
some routine business but this was kept to a small part of the
meeting, allowing us to focus on the great work that GETS has
done to help educate the children of poor families in The
Gambia, with the cash from our generous donors.
Thanks to everyone who was able to come or who has supported us
in any way.