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 11th April 2014

The Lower Basic classes also enjoyed an educational visit to My Farm, here they are being shown the plant nursery and the raised beds where they grow vegetables.

They were also very intrigued by the dishes used for solar cooking.


Rudy and Yolanda Nachtegaal visited again this week. They had donated money for the new noticeboard so were very pleased to see it on the wall in the hall.




Here are Nursery 2 concentrating on their writing, helped by their teacher, Fatou Sanneh.  Her three year training in Early Child Development at Gambia college finishes after the final exams at the end of this month.

Above are some much travelled pashminas hanging out to dry after being tie dyed. Bought plain white on Ebay then taken to Gambia, dyed at Sunrise and brought back to the UK, they will be sold over the Easter weekend on GETS stand at Chester Food Fair.

One of the ladies who bring food for sale during break-time. There will be a longer break now for everyone as the second term finished at the end of this week. The centre (and the blog) will start again on 28th April.

Week ending 4th April

The third year skills students are coming to the end of their time on attachment. Staff from the centre go out regularly to check on their progress, here is Helen visiting a student who is very happy working in the kitchen at 2Rays restaurant.


Back at the centre year one skills students, Saffie Bah and Yassin Marong are boiling onion skins to make a vegetable dye.

Here is the finished length of tie and dyed material made from the onion skin dye, hung out to dry.


More practical work from the Integrated Studies textbook - Mrs Cham is showing her class the different types of soil at the centre - sand, loam and clay.

She then added water to each type to show how the different types of soil react to water.

Here are some of Nursery 1 very busily engaged in discovering numbers, colours and patterns, though one boy seems more interested in the camera!

Week ending 28th March

The two nursery classes lined up patiently waiting to get into the bus for their annual trip. 

This year they went to My Farm, a charitable foundation aiming to improve livelihoods in The Gambia through education, agricultural innovation and environmental protection. Arriving at the farm, the first thing we saw was a board welcoming Sunrise nursery to My Farm.

The children were taken to the Bantaba where they met the men who were going to show them around the farm. They were divided into groups and went off to see the various areas of the farm. They were fascinated by a mother duck with her yellow ducklings and  the rabbits in their hutch.

 Feeding the fish was very popular with all the children and fortunately no-one fell in the pond!

Near the fishpond they saw beehives hanging from the trees and sang "This old man, he played five, he played knick-knack on my  hive."



 The grunting of the pigs scared them at first, but they soon got used to them and drew closer to watch them rooting about in the ground - the pigs featured prominently in the pictures which they drew at school later on.

The farm has a schoolroom used by the local community as a drop-in centre. Two teachers work shifts here so that someone is always on hand to help where needed. The schoolroom is well stocked with books, lego, games, puzzles and even i-pads!

The i-pads were a great hit with the children and they had to be coaxed away from them to eat the benechin which was cooked for them by the ladies at the farm using solar power.

 There was silence in the bantaba as the children ate every bit of their heaped platefuls of benechin, chicken and vegetables grown on the farm, followed by a drink of wonjo.

 Then, after saying thank you to all at My Farm, it was time to get  back in the bus for the journey home after an exciting day.

Barry, Dawn and Paul had a much longer journey home this week, for their time at Sunrise regretfully came to an end - till next time!



Week ending 21st March

 !4th March saw an important event in the lives of both Mr Bah and Mrs Cham - it was the evening of their graduation ceremony. After school they went to Banjul to join all the other students graduating from Gambia University and Gambia College.  Mr Bah, here below, gained his BSc in economics.

Mrs Cham received her certificate in Early Childhood Development. As  you will see from her picture below the event went on till after midnight!

The sports base has now been painted green and lines are beginning to be marked out. The goalposts for 5 a side football will be fixed permanently and the picture below shows the removeable basketball posts which will fit into sockets in the ground when being used.

  The skills cookery students have been doing practical work this week on planning and preparing a three course meal. These students were making fish dippers in tomato sauce, macaroni cheese and 'mud pies' - -individual versions of  Missisipi Mud Pie.

Wendy and Philip Pulling visited Sunrise this week and were shown around by Paul. They brought some resources for Sunrise and were very interested to see everything that was happening during a typical day at Sunrise.

A first for Sunrise this week was a fire-drill! Barry, our health and safety advisor, had explained the need for a fire-drill to all at Sunrise Centre and told them what should happen. Then one morning, the staff were told that  there would be a fire-drill at some point during the day and at the given signal everybody should immediately evacuate the building. On hearing the warning, the Nursery classes were the first to file out of their classrooms and walk across the hall to the outside area by the gate, followed closely by the Lower Basic, then by the Skills students. The building was evacuated in two minutes and everyone was present at the roll call seen below, watched by Barry and Helen.


Week ending 14th March

Last term Mrs Cham went to a day workshop on malaria awareness, so when her class came to this topic in their Integrated Studies text book, Mrs Cham took the opportunity to stress the message through drama. Last week pupils from grade 1 and grade 2 practised then finally performed the play in the hall, in front of an interested audience of skills students.

This week Grade 1 Lower Basic have been doing their half yearly assessment tests in English, Maths and Integrated Studies. This was a big step in their learning experience, it was their first introduction to working in a test situation and also on how to make their choice from the multi-choice answers below the questions. During Grade 3 national assessment tests like this are held throughout Gambian schools.


Now that the concrete base has been laid the work men are adding a sloping edge as a safety measure for when it is ready to be used.

  The next topic in the Integrated Studies text book was food so Mrs Cham took her Grade 2 Lower Basic class to the little local market by the school to discover what was for sale there. The children went from stall to stall writing down the items they saw on sale, together with their price, providing material for maths later as well!

They found out the price of the sticks of firewood and charcoal used for cooking, wet fish, fruit and vegetables, rice and millet, milk and sugar before moving on to a hardware stall.

 After discovering the English words for a variety of tools (another topic in their textbook) the excited children calmed down and formed a 'crocodile' for the short walk back to school - you can just see the upstairs classrooms above the wall in the distance.

Week ending 7th March

At the end of last week we had a PTA meeting, this picture was taken not long after the meeting started but by the time the meeting finished there were 3 or 4 times as many there - some still arriving as the meeting finished! Visitors to Gambia will have met the Gambian version of GMT - Gambia Maybe Time! 

Ken Duesbury, from Bradford, visited Sunrise this week with his friends, bringing lots more resources for Sunrise.

 All this week the workmen have been busy mixing concrete and barrowing it round to the sports area.



Two more visitors this week were Rebecca Panting and Ryan Miller. Rebecca's mother already sponsors a boy in our Lower Basic school and Ryan and Rebecca have decided to sponsor Sunrise students too.



Here is Rebecca sitting with some Nursery 2 children who are practising their writing.

A local carpenter has been making a notice board for the hall at Sunrise, here you can see him with Barry, making sure that the board is fixed safely to the wall and put up straight. The board has glass doors to keep notices clean, dust has been blowing everywhere the last two weeks, due to the Harmattan winds.


At the end of this week we said goodbye to Chris and Steve Humphries - until their next visit! Below you can see Chris busy sorting out some of the resources in Nursery 1.

And here is Steve, wielding a paintbrush yet again. He must think painting Sunrise is like painting the Forth Bridge!

Week ending 28th February

Some of the Lower Basic Grade 1 class are here saying thank you to Ruth McMeecham and Portmore Golf club for their donation towards more cookery equipment for our skills classes.

Here is Connie McGuffie helping some of Nursery 1 to form the letter S correctly - it is the first sound they learn with the Jolly Phonics scheme.

Nyara Badjie with her finished length of batik spread over the garden wall to dry.




  The black stone for the base of the games area, which is being financed by the Driffield RAF cadets, arrived at last after being held up at the port.

The workmen immediately started to lay and level the stone.

Below is Barry Young, busy in the office . Barry has been helping with the administration during the past few weeks.

Week ending 21st February

Maxine Beech (one of GETS Trustees) arrived in The Gambia for a holiday with her husband, Richard, this week. They enjoyed meeting up with Elizabeth Loppy, who they helped with fees to complete her course. Elizabeth presented them with some beautiful clothes (pictured here) that she had made for them. Having left Sunrise last year and now working full time with Madam Cox at a Sewing Shop in Serekunda, Lizzy has clearly learnt a lot and seems to really be enjoying herself.

 On Friday we had one of the noisiest events in the school year; Ebbeh Day. This event is a bit of an open day and school disco, rolled into one. Food and soft drinks are available (Ebbeh is a crab dish) and loud music is the order of the day. We sell the dishes of food for D5 (less than 10 pence) each and profits (there were some this year again) go to school funds. Our school hall and grounds were full of youngsters enjoying themselves. The hall picture shows the hall with the DJ (Ebou Corr) in an inset.

 We have a found a great role for Mrs Sally Ceesay (Nursery 1 teacher) in sales, serving out tickets for orange juice, Naan Mburu (Wollof word for a preparation of steamed rice balls and sweetened baobab juice), Wonjo juice (a sweet, purple fruit juice made from sorrel leaves) and Chakeri.


  We also have pictures of Mrs Fatou Cham (Lower Basic 2 teacher) with year 2 skills students Amba Ndow and Fatou Nyassai helping out.

Mr Ali Bah is looking very cool, surrounded by Sunrise children, including Awa Njie (LB1) and Ya Mundaw Njie (N1) whose mum had made a great job of sewing them matching dresses.

Richard Beech found some balloons and of course, he quickly became the centre of attention for all the youngsters as he started blowing them up. He seemed to enjoy the day as did everyone else who attended.

Week ending 14th February

We’ve had more visitors to Sunrise this week. Christopher Hill and his mum, Tracy came to see us during their holiday break, with friend Joseph Cherry. Chris was sponsored to give up sweets and cakes for a week with the proceeds coming to GETS - more details in our recent Fundraising News Thanks again for your help Chris.




We’ve also been given cash by two of the students from Bishop Heber High School in Malpas, Cheshire. Thanks go to Olivia Day and Ellie Walley (pictured) from Tutor group 10MBE who raised £40 for GETS by selling and delivering Valentines roses.













We were sad to say farewell to Rita Granger and Ruth McMeechan. Rita has been working with the Skills Training students and she is shown in the picture (on the left) in a batik dress that was dyed and sewn in the centre.

 The Lower Basic Students also helped to say farewell to Ruth,who had been helping them, and Rita, making them a lovely farewell card, shown here.

 Rita and Ruth have been with us at Sunrise for a month now and they seem to have thoroughly enjoyed themselves and made some great friends amongst the students.

Week ending 7th February

This week we enjoyed showing two of our supporters around the Sunrise Centre for the first Time. Dr Mustafiz Rahman and his wife, Dr Sultana Rahman, were “very impressed” I’m pleased to say. They are shown, pictured with Helen, in the admin office where we manage the school and the charity in The Gambia.

 Also this week the Year 1 skills training students went into mass production, producing Sunflowers. This is a design in Tie and Dye, using a method demonstrated by Hawa Fatty.

If you look carefully you can see that she has removed her footwear to prevent damage from the dyes. Not sure this would happen in the UK but skin on a Gambians foot seems to be really tough and scrubbing off dye would not be a problem!


We completed our garden wall (and gate) this week. This allows us to start to take gardening much more seriously, teaching the children throughout the school about methods of cultivating all sorts of plants and improving really important skills to help The Gambia become more self sufficient in this area.

 One of our long term volunteers was captured on camera working again with a paint brush. Steve Humphries is also good with a coffee cup too but he does a great job making Sunrise look pristine after the rainy season. He is seen here painting the Bantaba that we use for Skills practical work. I think his next job is the new garden gate!

 Lastly we have a picture of our youngest children drawing. Nursery school means many things in different countries but in Sunrise we aim to develop children to have many skills, including reading and writing, well before they go up to the primary school at 6 years. Gambians seem to love drawing and some show great promise very early, perhaps one or two will become artists one day, selling their pictures in the local markets to tourists.



Week ending 31st January

They say that none of us ever stop learning and this includes our teaching staff at Sunrise. Our new Education Director, Madam Kaddy Fofana, was keen that we should try out some of the latest ideas on classroom management techniques so we brought in Mr Ceesay (pictured with Kaddy and Mr Jarjue, our school inspector) as an expert trainer to work with all the staff, who gave up a Saturday to come into school and learn.

 The whole Saturday was devoted to the teaching session where staff, including classroom assistants and our friends from London Corner Nursery school (which Helen also helps administer) worked together to improve standards within the classroom. It was a tough day but enjoyed by all I think.





Most of our students also work really hard in school and we caught one of them on camera. Fatou Sidibeh (aged 6) from Nursery 2 was a perfect picture of concentration, carefully copying from a text book.


We have lots of resources to support our education methods at Sunrise and it is good to see Aminata Mbakeh (also Nursery 2)  with one of the spelling puzzles, producing a fish, hopefully!

Week ending 24th January

This week our intrepid builders began work on the foundations for our garden wall, This is an important structure since it will keep the small animals (mostly goats/sheep) out of the garden where good things to eat can usually be found. This structure will take pressure off of the caretakers who are always chasing the animals around or barricading the gateways to Sunrise to prevent access. It is fun watching at times! 

Part of doing the work on the garden wall involves making a new hole in the compound wall to get in the building materials required for the wall and other exciting projects (as below). Bricks will be made on site as usual and a wall will quickly appear, plus a small gate. One of our great friends and long-term supporters has already funded this work and we have been waiting for the right time to complete this. Thank you Peter.

Another project that we have to complete this year has been on our plans for almost a year now. That is the sports arena, that the Air Cadets from Driffield have raised considerable cash to build. The picture shows the Lower Basic children playing football in the space that will eventually be used to layout a concrete base that will be fitted with equipment for Netball, Football and Volleyball. This will be ready when the Cadets visit in April to complete their project with games equipment and we are really happy that they will be amongst the first to try it all out. More on this it develops but a massive thank you again to all involved.


We enjoyed seeing Paul Z again in Sunrise. Last year Paul Z (Zmitrowicz) came to teach in Skills for a while but now he’s back, this time with friends Roger Morgan, Tina Morgan, Claire Gibson and Guy Tarring. We were delighted that they brought a generous donation with them. Thank you for your support. Maybe we’ll see Paul again in the coming weeks if he stays in The Gambia for a while.

 Lastly we have another picture of students eating a meal in the Hall. They tell me that this is practical work but I’m not so sure.  Mrs Jammeh’s Skills 2 class has been doing their Bar and Restaurant class and someone has to try out the food, “to test the quality”, or so the story goes! They all enjoyed it of course.


Week ending 17th January

A big part of the work at Sunrise at this time of year is the second year Skills Training Students making the uniforms for the whole of the Skills area (180+ full uniforms). Marokey Bojang, Classroom Assistant, is very much in her element here, helping the students cut and produce good quality clothing. Wasting anything in The Gambia is something that everyone tries to avoid since money is very tight so careful supervision of enthusiastic learners is vital.

 The Skills students always look forward to practical sessions and at the end of the December term Tony caught a picture of some of the third year students making a copy of the Sunrise logo. It is great to see how proud they all are of the school and how it tries to help them. Great work in Batik from the third years!


Our Admin Assistant, Sendeng Suso also doubles as one of our photographers, capturing pictures for the blog. Today she spotted that the Lower Basic students have also been drawing our Sunrise logo. In the picture is one of the best drawings, by Muhammed Jallow aged 9. He has produced very neat work.

 It is interesting that in much of Africa, including The Gambia, many still eat food with their hands rather than using cutlery. Quite a surprise to the tourist on-lookers I think. but also a challenge when you have a job serving tourists in a restaurant. One of our practical lessons gives skills students in year 2 a chance to try out a knife and fork.  Given that western children use cutlery from a very early age and some still seem to struggle in their teenage years, these students are doing OK with their first lesson but also causing great mirth amongst their friends of course.

Week ending 10th January

Over the Christmas holidays we always try and do work that is best achieved when school is closed. When GETS inherited the Sunrise Centre from the community we had the added challenge of very small classrooms. We now have the luxury of spare big classrooms in the Lower Basic school that give us some space to swap things around.

 We have moved Mr Bah's English and Maths classes into one of these new rooms, allowing us to “knock two classrooms in one” in the skills centre. This created a double sized classroom, allowing more space for sewing and hopefully more machines too.

The Lower Basic classroom completion is also going forward as planned, with the electrics, ceilings, tiling and painting. This should complete soon to allow us the use of all 6 classrooms. We now use 2 rooms for primary teaching plus one for skills, so we will have one ready for next year’s primary 3 intake and 2 further spares.



One important point about all the shuffling of the Skills classrooms is that we will need to move the English and Maths classes to a new Skills classroom in the next couple of years to free up the last primary room for grade 6. We need cash to build this new room for the skills, but not for a couple of years yet.


 We also re-modelled two Bantaba tables to create one bigger one and allow more space for cutting out and batik stamping of long pieces of cloth.


Just before Christmas we also had a visit from Pat and Geoff Taylor with their daughter, Jenny, who have agreed to sponsor Jankey Secka in Nursery 1. They only been involved with GETS for a few months but often visit The Gambia. The three of them are here with Jankey and her teacher, Mrs Ceesay.