Week ending 19th December
Over the weekend some of the staff were
called to a Life-skills workshop. Although this clashed with
several other things happening at the same time, Mrs Fatou Cham,
Miss Mbacho Jallow and Mr Saihou Darboe all attended one or more
days. Topics covered included HIV and Malaria awareness.
One of our
volunteers, Ina Bakker, has been quietly working at Sunrise for
nearly one month now. She has been helping our sewing teacher
(Miss Marokey Bojang), who works part time. Ina has helped in
many ways, producing many garments including some Christmas
decorations. Ina also brought the lovely alphabet blanket for
the children in Nursery that Madam Fofana and Nursery Teachers
are displaying. The children made cards that say “Thank you”.
Thus far Ina has evaded the camera but this won’t last!
Later in the week, Denise photographed
Marokey showing off a lovely dress that had been put together as
part of one of the skills practical exams.
Since it was the end of term, we had
lots of extra activities, including the usual drama workshops.
The picture shows a group of Skills Students amusing the Lower
Basic school children in the Hall. Topics covered by these
dramas always have moralistic content. The person in the centre
of the picture is our head boy; Momodou S Fatty. A new school
council will be elected next term since the Year 3 Skills will
be going to their work placements.
Thanks mostly to Mr
Bah and Mr Darboe we have found placements for all the students,
despite the reduction in tourism this year, due to the Ebola
scare. Ebola is not in the Gambia so this seems a harsh
punishment for all the people involved in this important sector
of a developing poor country.
Week ending 12th December
This week was going to be the last week for
our long time friend and Administrator, Sendeng Suso. She is
leaving at the end of the week to begin a new career. Very
exciting for her and a bit sad for all of us at Sunrise. GETS
have know Sendeng for a long time now as she was a sponsored
student, so helping her to complete a really good education has
meant she is able to advance her career. Our loss but someone
We have been preparing
for Sendeng’s leaving, firstly by our friend and volunteer,
Denise Green, coming to help us in the office again. She is
pictured here getting lots of hand-over information from
Sendeng. We are delighted to have Denise back again after her
trip around the world!
Sendeng also brought
in some great resources given to GETS by her friend and
supporter, Alan Pickles. Alan runs a school project in a Senior
Secondary school “up river” at Farafenni, on the North Bank, and
has worked with GETS for many years. Also pictured being handed
to Madam Forfana are resources given to us by supporters (old
and new respectively) Peter Corrance and Emma Tabb. We are
always delighted to get these kind gifts. Thank you.
We had the first
“surprise” fire practice of the new year. Some children and
teachers had been taught about what to do last year but some
were new to the routine. The time to evacuate the whole school
to the entrance gate was just 5 minutes. The school inspector
had just arrived to see how we were doing generally and was able
to watch a very disciplined fire practice evacuation. Not
something often seen in Gambian schools, I understand.
many things you see Gambian women carrying on their heads as you
travel around the country. Firewood, food, water, clothing, so
it should have been no surprise to see Amba Ndow, from Skills 3,
carrying the school bell on her head early one morning.
school extension work is well under way now with sub-walls being
built and concrete mixing (all by hand) starting to make the
foundations of the Nursery Reception area. All this work is
thanks to support from the Winchester based Catholic Church
Charity, Covenant with The Poor.
The builders tend to
work in shifts in the hot sun which answers many questions about
why “only half appear to be working . . . . “ that are often
At the end of the week
we all said good bye and good luck to Sendeng. Presents and
cards from staff and children were given and Mrs Cham presented
Sendeng with a card from some of the children. Even one or two
parents who came into school that day ended up with tears in
their eyes. This all showed the immense amount of love and
respect that everyone felt for Sendeng. We will really miss her.
Week ending 5th December
This week Fatou Sanneh from Nursery 2 was
able to give out woolly hats, mittens and glove puppets, thanks
to a kind gift from Mrs P Merrott of Winterbourne Gunner near
Salisbury. This was done as prizes for the best work. Although
it seems warm in The Gambia to people from Europe, the local
people find the nights very cold at this time of year (<20 deg
Tony delivered to Ali
Bah some seeds that he’d managed to buy on the very busy Barra
ferry. This takes locals and tourists to the North Bank of the
Gambia and possibly onwards to North Senegal. It is easy to buy
all sorts of things on this ferry, though it is always packed to
the very top of every space inch. The seeds will bring a chance
to replace some that failed to germinated, probably due to the
moisture and heat before they were planted.
We forgot to include
some of our important visitors to Sunrise last week; Father
Kenny Macaulay and his wife Linda. They visited Sunrise on a
flying visit after going to the School in London Corner,
sponsored by the Church Charity from Dumbarton in Scotland,
where Linda and Kenny are both Trustees. We also had one of GETS
Trustees (and Secretary), Sue Nelson visiting with her father,
John Birkin on the same day. They are pictured under a tree that
will shortly meet its’ demise when our next building work
We are now officially
building our Nursery Reception classroom! Work has started
delivering materials and the builders are making blocks in the
school. Much more to come of course . . . .
More visitors were
welcomed on Thursday. Two groups arrived pretty much together
and were shown the work and progress made in Sunrise. The first
group was Pat Taylor, with her husband Geoff and daughters Tori
and Jenny. Pat’s family sponsor Jankey, who posed for a nice
picture with the group. They were able to reflect on our work
since last year when all (except Tori) visited. I’m delighted
that they planning to sponsor another child in need of help,
Isata Sey in Lower Basic Grade 2.
We showed Emma Tabb and boyfriend Connor
around on their first visit to Sunrise. They sat in Nursery 2
with their teacher Fatou Sanneh during an assessment and
observed the quality of the children's work. Connor is a chef
and was interested in our Cookery teaching. It’s great that they
want to help the Skills Students through Sponsor a Class and I’m
hopeful of Connor swapping recipes with Alimatou Jammeh in
future! Emma also brought resources for which we are delighted,
We also had a visit
from Batou Sanneh, who came to ask Tony to take home presents
for people in the UK who helped her with her schooling, two
years ago. Batou is now working in her second job, near Bakau,
after securing a position after her work placement from Sunrise.
It is good to see Batou and to hear that things are going well.
She certainly appreciates what her sponsors did for her.
Friday brought another
busy day. Mufti Day is where all the school is allowed to wear
other clothes instead of uniform; generally Tribal dress. We
took pictures of some of the best dressed students and children.
The 2 older students
pictured, Jarra Konteh (left – Mandinka) and Kaddy Jarjue (right
– Fula) won extra prizes and a certificate for their efforts.
Week ending 28th November
One of our supporters, John Birkin, is
currently on holiday in The Gambia with Tony and Sue Nelson.
John is Sue’s father and has never visited the country before,
so we have asked him to write this week’s blog. John sponsors a
student, Florian Gomez in Lower Basic 3, and was delighted to
have the opportunity to meet her. Such meetings are obviously
rare, but add a valuable personal touch to the relationship.
One of the challenges
at Sunrise is the establishment and use of a school library.
There are many books and resources all ready to be used. Should
they be read and studied simply in the library? Should they be
available to the students on loan and, if so, how are they to be
logged in and out? These may seem trivial problems to those used
to UK lending libraries, but careful thought is needed in
setting up a system which will be simple for the students (and
the librarian, if one is needed) and robust enough to stand up
to the wear and tear of fragile books and possible e-readers in
a culture that is simply not used to such things?
Lower Basic 3, as part
of their Integrated Studies, have been learning about methods of
communication, starting with very early methods such as drums,
smoke signals, the horn and the flute. The different means were
explained clearly by Mrs Cham then four groups took it in turns
to act out roles. Later lessons will move towards more modern
means of communicating, but the significance of the early
methods was made clear as part of Gambian history and culture.
During this week
Sendeng also caught up with Mrs Alimatou Jammeh’s cookery class,
practicing making twirls, biscuits, tarts and cakes.
Quite a fine
collection for taste testing also makes for a fun end to a day’s
Week ending 21st November
Nursery 2 class have been learning their
numbers. They have just started to explore the number 8. Their
teacher, Fatou Sanneh, played counting games with them, such as
7 little Sunrise girls standing in a row – another one joined
them and then there were 8.
They also practised
making the shape of the number in a tray of sand.
Marockey Bojang, our sewing classroom
assistant, has made some lovely braided bracelets. Over the
years we have accumulated a colourful variety of silks and yarns
and this is a great way to use them.
Here Marockey is
showing one of the students how to make the bracelets. We hope
to bring some back to the UK where they can be sold to make some
money for the school.
The student making a
bracelet here is Aminah Hanfa, a 17 year old girl who has
recently joined Sunrise Skills Centre along with her brother
Yahya aged 15. They came here from Birmingham in the UK but have
lived in the Gambia previously. Their father was originally from
The garden plots have
now all been planted up and the seeds are growing quickly in the
lovely climate here.
Week ending 14th November
We are delighted to announce that we have now
got plans in place to begin building our Nursery Reception
class. We have been working with the Winchester based Catholic
Church Charity, Covenant with The Poor and they have confirmed
that their fundraising will completely cover our costs. Thanks
to another very large gift we can also fund most of our other
plans to this building season. More of this will be found in our Term 1
This children have all
been asked to stand in a line to show the boundary of our new
Reception class, together with essential storage and toilets
that we are almost ready to begin building.
Tony interviewed our
latest new teacher, Fattoumata Darboe, to get a little more
information about her background for our web pages about the
Sunrise staff. Fatoumata’s family come from the Kiang Region of
the Gambia. This is not far from the coast in terms of distance
but Bintang Balong, a large water way, has always meant that it
is much more isolated to travellers. More information can be
found by clicking on the names of the teachers in our page about
our Lower Basic Staff.
All over the world
children seem to play the same sort of games to test each other
and have fun. At Sunrise they are no different. The boys
sometimes play fight and the girls often chase each other around
the hall and outside areas at break. The picture shows some of
the Lower Basic girls playing a squeezing game on one of the
school benches, shrieking and hooting with laughter as
alternative children were squashed!
Tony also caught up with
our cookery teacher showing the Year 1 Skills Training students
how to fry food well. They were making fish pie using charcoal
burners, cooking outside. The kitchens where the students hope
to work are usually covered and they will cook with gas but in
their homes this kind of cooking is the norm. The results -
Week ending 7th November
We have had the pleasure of having two
great volunteers in Sunrise for nearly a month now. Ruth
McMeechan and Rita Granger were (are) maths teachers who came to
help us. During their time at Sunrise they have done many, many
different things both in and out of the school, with Rita trying
many things for the first time. Some went well and others were a
learning experience for them. Rita’s hair was treated to a local
arrangement that proved rather tiring at times so first thing in
the morning Sendeng showed her how to put her braids up to
reduce the load on her scalp.
Later in the week Tony
went to see the progress in the library sorting through the
masses of boxes that came in our container before the summer
break. Ruth and Rita are pictured showing the progress that
they’ve made. The room is not quite finished due to some hidden
“stuff” but the camera is great at high-lighting the good bits!
Our Cookery Teacher,
Alimatou Jammeh, continues to work hard to teach the skills
students all about the bar and restaurant business. She is
pictured here showing the students how to dress a table. They
then all had a go, producing many interesting results.
We are still getting one or two of
our externally sponsored students visiting. This time Fatou Mbye
came to get money for her Apple Tree Uniform and then returned
to proudly show it off. Fatou has not been well and missed some
school last year. She has just started at Apple Tree where the
fees are not cheap and we hope that the move from her previous
school works for her.
We always collect the
tie and dye cloth for the uniform to keep it safe until it is
sewn later in the year. Our Education Director (Madam Kaddy
Fofana) is pictured here with all the new materials ready to
make the teachers' clothes. We are storing them securely where
they can’t get lost.
Week ending 31st October
Bato Sanneh, one of our ex-students came
into Sunrise to receive a birthday present that her friend,
Maxine Beech, had sent her. Maxine helped Bato stay in school by
sponsoring her education. Bato is eternally grateful for the
chance that Maxine has given her. She has now moved from her
first job into another in Bakau, as her experience in the Bar
and Restaurant industry grows. Bato is seen here receiving her
present from Sendeng, our office administrator at Sunrise.
Sometimes the children
in Sunrise are just too small to write on the blackboard so the
teachers lend a hand! Mbacho Jallow teaches Nursery 1 and was
working with the class on their numbers. The little girl, Jankey
Secka was showing the class that she knew how to write the
number 3. She was also very clear about what the number meant
too. Jankey is just 5 years old.
We were delighted to
meet up with Angela Longoni-Sarr and Johnnie Walker at Sunrise
last week. They came to say hello and see the sports floor that
they helped raise the money to build, with help of the Air
Cadets from Driffield. The kids all enjoyed posing for pictures
with Angela and Johnnie. Tony took them around the site to
explain what the plans looked like for our next building
projects. These building projects (Nursery and Skills Training
expansion) are just going to the planning department now and the
nursery extension will start soon after their approval!
The garden plots are
moving ever closer to planting. This is managed by Mr Bah again
this year, supported by the skills training students. Other
children will learn about gardening during the year by growing
things in pots, as they did last year.
A big part of this
week has been made up of Tie and Dying white bazin material into
appropriate colours for next year's uniform manufacture. Almost
every wall at Sunrise was covered with small cloth; golden
yellow for Nursery, red for Lower Basic, Gold/Red for Skills
Training and green and yellow for the teaching staff. In fact
one or two students went to places that the other students
couldn’t reach to make sure that the cloth dried quickly in the
hot sun. We were all a bit nervous watching Yahya Sarr climbing
Having produced all
the materials it is important to be very clear on sizes and
numbers. With nearly 480 pieces of cloth of different colours
and sizes it is important to get this correct. The costs are
well over D100,000 (Dalasi) now and our Madam Kaddy Fofana, our
Education Director always makes sure that all is correct!
On the news every day
the countries affected by Ebola are linked under the geographic
area called West Africa. This area contains countries like
Senegal and The Gambia that have no problems with disease, but
unfortunately this news is keeping many people from travelling
here from Europe and is likely to cause significant effects on
families that are supported by the tourism sector. The loss of
income and subsequent poverty that may follow will be very hard
to deal with.
We now ask all
visitors, school pupils and parents to wash their hands as a
precaution against the spread of Ebola. The deadly disease is
quite a long way from The Gambia and we hope it never comes any
closer but the education ministry have asked schools in The
Gambia to do this as part of the governments precautions. At
Sunrise every day the children line up to wash with detergent
and in clean water, delivered by the school caretakers.
Week ending 24th October
This week we were pleased to welcome two
new supporters to Sunrise; Quintin Hampton and Pete Steele.
Quintin and his wife Diane came to live in The Gambia in 2009,
Diane sadly died very suddenly last October whilst visiting the
UK. Quintin has now picked up the pieces of his life and come
back to live in the compound that they had made their home.
Diane had wished to support GETS when she returned to The Gambia
last year and Quintins good friends Jean and Pete Steele helped
carry out Diane’s wish by collecting cash in her name for GETS
from all their friends, relations, local church groups and the
many groups that they were able to target. They brought a total
of £1,500 to add to the Sunrise funds, for which we are
extremely grateful. The picture shows Kaddy Fofana (Education
Director) receiving the cash from Pete with Quintin looking on.
rapidly in The Gambia at this time of year. The ground is still
moist after the rains and the high humidity helps move things
along. The caretakers have been clearing the weeds that spring
up all over the school compound and the students have been
working within the garden to make it fit to plant seeds. The
sorrel plans have been spared the clearing since they about to
produce the flowers that are harvested to make wonjo juice.
Tony brought some
finished materials for the students to tie and dye. They had
great fun with colours and designs and of course posing for the
pictures afterwards. They worked to colour place mats and
scarves that we might sell for use as Christmas presents.
A visit to London
Corner School, run by the Scottish Charity based in Dumbarton
allowed Tony to see how Amie William was getting on. She has
moved to the school in position of Classroom Assistant, working
today with Betty Mendy with the oldest Nursery children. Amie
continues to be sponsored by long-time GETS supporter and
fund-raiser, Angela Longi-Sarr.
Week ending 17th October
We are always delighted to see volunteers
at Sunrise, especially from experienced teachers such as Rita
Granger and Ruth McMeechan. Rita has been working with our
Skills Training department, particularly in cookery with
Alimatou Jammeh and Ruth is mostly working with the Lower
Basic classes. They travel each day a mile or so from their
accommodation to the Sunrise Centre on their bikes, travelling
on a mixture of sand and tarmac roads.
We were also delighted to
have a visit from our friend, the old Education Director,
Nurudeen Mbye, who swapped ideas with Kaddy Fofana, our current
Education Director. Nurudeen is working hard to advance his
career as a Lawyer in the Gambia.
We are still sorting out school fees and
taking applications from parents and students who are struggling
to find funds to pay these fees. One such youngster is Fatou
Singhateh in Skills 2, she lives with a family locally because her father
died and her mother has 5 other children. We hope that we have
found someone in the UK who will pay the small cost to keep her
in Skills Training at Sunrise, about £10 per month.
Our new sports floor is regularly used
now by many of the classes. Lower Basic Grade 3 were caught on
camera with their classroom assistant, Sulayman Jobe, joining in
with the highly competitive game. The girls were skipping at
Week ending 10th October
Although the rainy season is almost at
an end, there have still been several thunderstorms and heavy
showers. This street seller has many big puddles to avoid as he
makes his way along the road leading to Sunrise, whilst cars try
to avoid using roads like this until they know how deep the
This academic year we now have Grade 1,
2 & 3 Lower Basic classes using the three downstairs classrooms.
As the years go by the three classrooms upstairs will house
Grade 4, 5 & 6 as the present students move up the school, but
at the moment they have other uses.
One room is used by Mr Bah for teaching maths and English to the
skills students until we can build them an extra classroom for
these subjects - a future project.
One room is used by Augustina Onyinye Ugbana, our new Christian
Religious Education (CRE) teacher, seen here below with the four
Christian pupils in Lower Basic Grade 1. The rest of Grade 1 are
Muslims and are taught in their classroom by the Islamic
Religious Knowledge (IRK) teacher.
The other spare classroom
upstairs is being used to store the chairs, tables and other
school furniture that came in the last container, until we need
to furnish a Grade 4 classroom next September.
First Aid for Gambia asked if they could store some of their
spare equipment at Sunrise until they find a new home for it
and, fortunately for them, we were able to find some space in
the crowded room.
Here are Nursery 2 lining
up for the breakfast we provide for the nursery children, their
teacher handing out the rolls filled with savoury spaghetti and
hot dog sausage, whist Susan Jarju was handing them a drink of
Paul saw these Nursery 1
children engrossed in their puzzles.
Tony and I were walking
past Nursery 2 when we heard the children singing about ducks.
After they had sung "One
little duck with a feather on his back, he led the others with a
quack, quack quack", their teacher, Fatou Sanneh asked them if
they knew what a feather was. They all looked blank so she
started to draw a feather on the blackboard, laughing because
she was wondering how she should draw a feather!
Week ending 3rd October
School opened on Monday 29th September.
Our education director, Kaddy Fofana,
sitting at her desk ready for the challenges of the new term.
We have a new teacher in Lower Basic
Grade 2 - Fatoumata Darboe.
A short week this week as Thursday and
Friday were school holidays to allow everyone to travel up
country to celebrate Tobaski with their families at the weekend.
One of our skills students who graduated
this summer joins Mama as a Lower Basic classroom assistant-
Susan Jaru will now prepare the
mid-morning breakfasts for the students and staff.
She was also one of our
graduating students this summer, but between shopping for and
cooking the food hasn't had time to sew her Sunrise uniform yet!
Weeks ending 25th
When Paul and I
arrived on 15th September we were met by Gibbi, our
watchman/caretaker, with the news that the other two watchmen
had left, so two more had to be found.
Pa Modou has already taken up
his duties and a third watchman will start next week.
Potential new students and their parents
have been coming into the office to collect and return
registration forms for Sunrise Skills, Lower Basic and Nursery classes.
We have many more applications than we have places, so have to
choose the best. Below I am explaining to a nervous potential
skills student that although we ask the new skills students to
do a short maths and English test, the tests aren't very
Mbacho and Bubacarr were busy handing out
uniforms and material for making them.
During the last two weeks external
students have also been coming to the office to collect the cheques for their school fees. These
external students are sponsored by many different individuals
with an interest in helping Gambians, whom they have met whilst
visiting The Gambia, get a good education.
The first to come with their mother to
collect their cheques were Amie and Bubacarr Jallow, who both
attend Deeper Life School.
They were quickly followed by Ida, whom
many will know as she works in the Kairiba ice-cream parlour. Her daughter
finished Grade 6 this July, so has chosen to go to Gambia
Methodist Academy for her Upper Basic and any further education
- here she is modelling her smart new uniform!
30th August 2014
30th August we had the GETS Charity AGM,
held this year in Lichfield. Many of our supporters met with the
Trustees to supervise the formal business of review and forming
a new 2014/5 team to run the charity.
This year we said
“thank you and good bye” to Julie Limbrick (pictured), one of
the founding members of GETS many years ago. Julie has stepped
down from her job with the Trustees having worked hard and given
words of guidance to the Trustees over many years on very
different subjects; from IT to children’s hardship.
The attendees all
gathered around a banner showing our latest initiative, launched
last year, “Sponsor a Class”. This is now growing the income of
the charity with people coming forward to help our work in The
Gambia, even though many have never visited us. In fact the web
site has built enough confidence for people to contribute hard
earned cash to educate disadvantaged Gambians, from as far away
as America and Bratislava, in Slovakia.
Thanks go to Chris
and Steve Humphries for organising us this year in their home
Look out for more
issues of the Blog as our school and charity office open up in
time for the next school term, due at the end of September.