The latest news from
GETS in Gambia


Thanks to our supporters we have funded our building plans for 2014/15. Our next target is to build a new Skills classroom. We need £7,000 to do this - can you help us to raise the money we need?
Week ending 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.

Johnny  is working with the skills students to make and wrap 234 Christmas Biscuits!

 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 Hall.

The football pitch will be quite different soon after the sports area is built in the spring.


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.


Week ending 13th December

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.



Week ending 6th December

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 costs low.

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!

Week ending 29th November

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.

Nursery 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.

The Skills 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.

 Chris 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.


Week ending 22nd November

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!

Week ending 15th November

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!

Week ending 8th November

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.

Week ending 1st November

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 trips.

 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.





Week ending 25th October

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 ). 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.


Week ending 18th October

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 dishes.

This is a time for remembering those who can’t return home and of supporting people who are poor. The festival lasts 2 days.




Week ending 11th October

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.


The 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!

 Batou 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.

Week ending 4th October

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 families.

 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.










Week ending 27th September

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 everything.





  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.

 Pictured here 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 with Photoshop!

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.

AGM2013 minutes