Week ending 24th July
This week we had about 20 visitors from
Barcelona come to Sunrise to look around. Thankfully they had
let us know in advance. Anna Ferrer works in Barcelona School as
an administrator and brought some of the teachers, parents and
some pupils to meet the children and staff at Sunrise. They
spent time in the classes and playing with the children at break
time in the hall.
The Barcelona school
hopes to link up with a school in The Gambia and we are hoping
that it might be Sunrise, through our Sponsor a Class
We have just begun to improve our
facilities for cookery with the bantaba area. We are working to
get Sunrise Skills Training Centre officially registered with
the National Training Authority (NTA) and it is a
condition that we enclose our cookery room. This means adding
windows, doors, a ceiling and walls to make sure we exclude dirt
and any passing wild life.
Our health certification should be
plain sailing after these remedial works are complete.
Luckily we still have some building
project cash to do this but it is dwindling fast now so we need
to start working on new reserves soon!
Sunrise Centre has now closed for the
holidays and will re-open on Monday September 28th.
GETS Annual General Meeting will take
at 1300 on Saturday 5th September 2015 at St Mary's Church Hall,
The Horsefair, Banbury OX16 0AA
will be preceded by a free buffet lunch at 1200.
Please let us know if you can come.
Week ending 17th July
We always invite parents and guardians
into the school to talk with the teachers about the
students'performance and also for formal PTA meetings. The
pictures show a recent PTA meeting where progress and
development were discussed in terms of students and within the
Sunrise school as well.
the hall and were eager to discuss how things were going. The
turn-out was ok but not excellent.
Elsewhere in the
school our 2015 building work progresses. The pictures show how
we are building tiled seating outside the new Nursery extension
We have also completed tiling work
in the Skills Training extension classroom for Mr Bah’s English
and Maths studies - the classroom will be all painted and clean
ready for the start of next term.
Having delivered the
majority of the building materials, for this phase of work, we
have now filled in the temporary hole in our compound wall. This
will stop goats and sheep and small children from entering the
compound (and the animals into the garden) when we are not
This week also saw the
end of Ramadam with the Koriteh Day Prayers or Eid Ul Fitr. This
is a holiday and celebration period for Muslims everywhere so
there was also a holiday at Sunrise.
Week ending 10th July
As the Sunrise school draws towards the end
on term we are going through the internal testing phases too (in
addition to Final exams and external NAT exams). This gives
parents and guardians a chance to see how their offspring
perform against our standards and those of the others in their
The first picture
shows our Lower Basic 2 class in their own room followed by an
exam for Skills Training for Years 1 and Year 2.
Training we also undertake practical assessments. The next 2
pictures show some of Skills year 2 undertaking Batik work.
Mr Darboe (our Tie and
Dye/Batik teacher) is helping a student from Skills year 1 lay
out her work prior to dyeing the material.
Week ending 3rd July
As school moves towards the end of the year
and the Skills Training students from Year 3 have graduated and
left us, Sunrise has become a little quieter, especially when
test and exams are on for the remainder. Our local photographer
(Ramatoulie Ceesay – actually school administrator) has to spot
things that are happening each day for our blog. Today she took
some lovely pictures of two Skills boys posing proudly besides
their latest work.
the girls were mixing chemical dyes in preparation for
completing new projects. All the hot water used in the
production is heated on open fires outside at Sunrise but
everyone is used to this and takes great care. (Most cooking at
home is outside of course, with firewood or charcoal.)
We have had to rebuild
our dyeing slab (covered with a blue plastic sheet to protect
it) since the original one had corroded through chemical contact
and developed a hole through the concrete. The latest slab uses
the tougher black (Basalt) stone and we hope that it will last a
The drying lines at
Sunrise were full of brightly coloured finished work, as usual,
as the Skills 1 students completed their practicals for the day.
Elsewhere at the
Sunrise Centre we have the tilers in! This is a key part of
completing the Nursery and Skills Training Classroom extension
work. The picture shows piles of tiles outside the Nursery
school on top of the newly tiled walk way into the new Nursery
Still a bit to do and
the first rains are now starting to push into the Gambia, inland
but not far from Bakoteh, near the Atlantic coast where the
school is situated.
Week ending 26th June
This week the school at Sunrise closed for
a couple of days to allow the National Assessment Test (aka NAT
exams) to take place in complete quiet. The children from Mrs
Cham’s Lower Basic class were subjected to these tests. In the
last few weeks Mr Beyai has taken over the class, whilst Fatou
Cham is on her maternity leave.
The children have
worked very hard to cover all of their syllabus and we are all
hopeful that they will do their best in the exams.
Early feedback from Mr
Bah (English and Maths Teacher) was that the Maths paper looked
The exam was
externally managed and invigilated for fairness and will be
The children already have the paper for
their answers and the external invigilators are preparing to
hand out the test papers.
Earlier in the school
year, we chose our School Council, as usual. The position of
Head Boy was awarded to Mustapha Jabang and Head Girl; Emily
Jarjue. We took photos at the time but Emily came to Tony one
day and said that the council didn’t like the pictures. In her
words they were “ugly”.
Tony retook all the
pictures (Mustapha and Emily’s are shown here) and managed to
get a seal of approval. (What happened in the original pictures
were that the faces had been accidentally squeezed or stretched
to make them look a bit odd!)
Week ending 19th June
Ramadan began this week. It is the ninth
month of the Islamic calendar and is observed by Muslims
worldwide as a month of fasting to commemorate the first
revelation of the Quran to Muhammad according to Islamic belief.
This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of
Islam. The month lasts 29–30 days based on the visual sightings
of the crescent moon. Fasting from dawn until sunset, Muslims
refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids and smoking.
Ramadan puts an extra
challenge on the mainly Muslim staff at Sunrise, who need to
carry on as normal during each working day to teach the
children. The picture shows Fatou Sanneh’s class working on
their letter formation. The children are not required to fast so
life is much easier for them.
Electric power has
been a struggle in the office again but we are now helped by the
addition of 2 new solar panels, located facing south on the
Lower Basic roof. These produce enough electricity for most of
our needs (except printing) and makes life a bit easier for our
storage batteries, which did seem to run out rather too quickly.
The rainy season which comes soon may challenge us again but
early indications show a reasonable charge even on cloudy days.
We are always
pleased to see former students and find out how things are
progressing. Elizabeth Loppy popped in to Sunrise the other day,
“modelling” a lovely top that she had designed and made herself.
She continues to be employed locally, making high quality
clothing, mainly for children, in a local tailoring shop in
We also were pleased
to see Mrs Cham again (back briefly from her maternity leave)
with her new Sunrise baby, Haddy. Helen (and others) enjoyed
meeting up with Haddy and she seemed to enjoy the experience
Week ending 12th June
This week there was another very important
time at the Sunrise Centre in terms of marking achievements for
the Skills Training Students; it was their Graduation Day.
The staff all worked
very hard to prepare food on Thursday and Friday, packing food
into foil boxes before the event.
The Hall was prepared
to take the guests and parents and the top table, including the
local Imam and our good friend, Mrs Chow. Many parents attended
and the staff had made new suits of clothes and dresses, as
usual, in matching fabric.
Waiting for the
ceremony to begin-
Madam Kaddy Fofana
(Sunrise Education Director) introduced the occasion and Helen
read a speech from Tony on behalf of GETS. Then our guest
speaker, Madam Ida Saine Conteh, talked to the audience and
graduates about developing themselves and going out to work in
the many businesses that are helping to improve life in The
Gambia. Ida has a great deal of experience, both in the Gambia
(with her business, Ida’s Ideas Tailoring) and further afield,
being called “Gambia’s Fashion Ambassador” by a Nigerian web
site and also “The First Lady of Gambia Haute Couture”.
27 students graduated from their 3 year
course and many have jobs as a result of their third term work
placements in local businesses.
After the ceremony
everybody ate the food which had been carefully prepared in
advance and also had a piece of the special graduation cake.
The end to another
successful year in Skills Training.
Week ending 5th June
We are still getting the occasional visit
to Sunrise from our friends and supporters. Paul Z (Zmitrowicz)
came into see us before meeting up with Helen and Erica (Lowe-Darboe)
in Senegambia. Tony caught them on a picture after a lovely
evening meal. Paul has helped us with some teaching of year 3
Skills Training Students on the topic of writing a CV and
Interview practice to help them with the transition into
We are still making
progress against our target to open a new Nursery classroom for
3-4 year olds. This project also has a store and more Nursery
toilets within it.
We are also working on
the Skills classroom extension to allow Mr Bah’s English and
Maths class to re-locate and free up our Lower Basic 4 classroom
for next year.
All roofing is
completed and rendering of walls also done now. The next part of
the project is to complete the tiling of all the new floor
areas. This begins next week.
Break times in Sunrise are always noisy
times, particularly on Fridays when all the areas of the school
have a half hour break at 1030. The quiet Nursery children
(there are a few!) often sit in the hall and chat over drinks
The energetic Lower Basic children
are also shown here in a frenetic clapping game, with a style
that is very African.
In another area Ndey Haddy Kaira was
completing a lovely colouring picture. These scenes are not
different from any school really.
Week ending 29th May
This week the atmosphere was quiet and
serious for a change, since the 3rd year skills
students were doing their examinations over 3 of the days. The
photo shows the students focusing on the maths paper. They were
spread out in the school to avoid any temptation. This scene
might be in any school across many countries but having an open
hall makes concentration just a little more difficult.
Susan Jarjue (one of
our ex-skills students) was later seen making the breakfast that
we serve up for all the children, every day, at break time. This
is usually in the form of a sandwich of local bread (Tapalapa)
and a filling, like cooked black beans or sardines. Susan has
had some improvements to her kitchen recently following advice
from our local health inspector, as part of the preparation work
to our National Training Authority (NTA) accreditation. We still
have some work to do but it is under way now, and we hope to
complete all of this before the end of the year.
We are still working on Tie and Dyeing
pashminas to help with fund raising. The cloth is very bright
when colour is applied and we have many different designs
available for tourists. Some will also go to the UK for our
supporters to sample.
The pictures show some of the
designs and also last year's head boy, Momodou S Fatty, helping
Mr Darboe in processing the pashminas. The 3rd Years
are really very confident and very creative as they complete
their time at Sunrise.
Week ending 22nd May
The Sunrise logo is very recognisable to
our many supporters and we do our best to make it bright and
clear on our school uniforms too. We used to have all our school
badges embroidered with threads of the bright colours but since
last year we have been buying badges that are screen printed,
saving more than half the cost.
The 500 new school
badges need to be cut carefully to size and are then backed by
an iron-on material before being sewn with our very own electric
“over-locking” machine, that came in our container last year,
thanks to the charity Tools with a Mission and our good friends
Tony Bound and Erica Wren. Our principal, Kaddy Fofana, is shown
in the picture helping the sewing team with accurate cutting out
some of the many, many badges that we have to work on.
As we move nearer to the end of term the 3rd
Year Skills Training students undergo a series of final
practical exams to complete their course. The picture here shows
Mrs Jammeh’s cookery class preparing their meals in the Bantaba.
Mrs Jammeh allowed the students who had been working in
catering, during their recent work experience, to chose what
they would like to make. She gave a set meal to the other
The formal photo shows the
proud 3rd Year students showing off their finished
meals. These ranged from iced sponge cakes through curries and
spicy dishes of sweet and sour chicken to traditional (for
tourists) fish and chips! Once the protective cling film was
removed, the taste testing could begin, with eager staff waiting
to comment on the students work. They all seemed very happy!
The Lower Basic Grade 3
class are also expected to under-go formal testing this year in
the Gambian National Assessment Tests (NAT). Our class are
working hard towards this with Mr Beyai in charge. They have
already done their mock exams and 79% passed the exam. Our
target (and the National target) is that more than 80% of
children should pass. The final NAT is still 4 weeks away and
the children learn very quickly at this age, so we are hopeful
of a successful outcome.
Week ending 15th May
One of the things that our Tie and Dye
Teacher, Mr Saihou Darboe, tries to teach in our Skills Training
Centre is new simple ways of making things, like using flour and
water to resist dyes and using natural dyes for colouring
show the 2nd year students creating designs and their
At this time of year
we also make sure that Skills Training students all complete
their final practical work for examination. The picture shows
proud students with our Education Director, Madam Fofana, with
some of their work. We are hoping that 26 students will graduate
this year. When they came back from their work placements they
told us that 21 had promises of work after graduation. A
Helen has continued to
pay external sponsored students' fees over the last few weeks.
We had a visit from Katty Njie (sponsored by Tony Bound and
Erica Wren) from Kotu Junior Secondary School, now doing well in
Helen also had
Bubacarr Jallow (at Deeper Life Upper Basic School) come into
see us with his mum Awa Bah, whom he now stands head and
shoulders above. Bubacarr and his sister are both sponsored by
Roy and Ann Hockaday.
One of our new
teachers who joined only recently and then left to have a baby,
came to visit us last week. Fatoumata Darboe (Lower Basic Grade
2 Teacher) came in to show off her new son, named Alassan. We
are hoping that she will join us again for the start of July, in
the middle of the Muslim festival of Ramadan and just before the
end of term.
After last week's
"Thank you" to Anon for donating to GETS through My Charity Page
we were surprised to receive an email from My Charity Page
saying that they were closing down their donation website
at the end of this month. You can of course still donate to GETS
Week ending 8th May
This week started with quite a nice
surprise when we heard that Mrs Cham (our Lower Basic School
teacher) had a baby girl, just a few days after leaving school
on her maternity leave. The lovely baby girl (no name yet) and
her mum, Fatou, are both well.
Mr Beyai, our new
Lower Basic School Teacher has been caught on camera playing
football with the boys during a PE lesson. The girls were also
playing games at the time too but not football. Mr Beyai helps
us in the mornings but goes onto work at Bakoteh Lower Basic
each afternoon teaching the afternoon shift at the state run
We have recently had
some unexpected donations through My Charity Page and PayPal -
many, many thanks to those donors for supporting GETS! We were
able to personally thank the donors who gave their email address
but would like to take this opportunity to thank "Anon" for
their donation of £50 through My Charity Page.
The Gambia is hoping
to very much reduce the use of plastic bags within the country
and help to reduce waste and improve the environment as a
result. With this in mind, Mr Darboe has been teaching some the
year 2 students in Skills Training how to make strong paper bags
out of newspapers. These seem quite effective but we decided
that bringing wet fish home from the market might be a too much
of a challenge even for these well made efforts.
Friday we called the parents to an open day at Sunrise, asking
that all parents from across the school come and talk to
teachers about the performance of their children.
a good number of parents weren’t able to come, there was a
lively discussion with those that attended and we even sold some
of the Sunrise material that had been made on site, with
proceeds going towards school funds.
Week ending 1st May
Tony arrived in Sunrise this week and has
been exploring progress and some of our challenges. There is a
lot to see since his last visit before Christmas. He met up with
our new Sewing teacher, Mrs Ceesaynding Jaiteh-Jammeh, who was
proudly showing off the bracelets that the students had been
working on in Skills Training. Ceesaynding has brought many new
skills and experiences from her training at Gambia College and
work in Sukuta Upper Basic school.
The garden has been
replanted after the Easter break and is beginning to flourish
again. The vegetables include many, many onions, tomatoes and
cabbages. The watering is quite a challenge during the dry
season with the long break over the weekend and with the Workers
Day holiday on Friday this week.
Tony also caught a
nice picture of Fatou Cham emptying water onto the “flowers” (as
Gambians call them) at the side of the hall from a water bucket.
The smaller children have access to drinking water in a large
container every day. We are exploring the idea of getting a
school drinking fountain since the water pressure from the
water company is quite good now.
One of the changes
that we have made is the successful extension of our 2 smallest
classrooms to make them a similar size to our recent classroom
additions. Mrs Sanneh's Nursery 2 class is shown here with the 2
tables situated under the beam that supports the roof, where the
original outside wall stood. This gives an increase of more than
25% in classroom area, for quite a small cost.
Week ending 24th April
The roof on the new skills classroom is
well under way. All appears to be on track for the opening of
the new classrooms in September.
You may remember this
little girl with the long name .........
Ijeoma Nwagbaraocha from Nursery 2 is having fun
cleaning up in the kitchen this time!
The third year skills students are now busy
doing their practical exams. Here they are showing their
hospitality skills relevant to bar and restaurant work.
Three pictures from their
practical batik exam
Week ending 17th April
This week school re-opened after the Easter
holidays. The third year skills students are back in school
after spending last term on work experience at various places in
the area. Twenty-one of them have obviously given a good
impression of themselves and the traing which they have received
at Sunrise, as they were offered jobs at the end of their
attachment. However, they must first return to school, and
prepare for their final practical and theoretical exams before
they can start work.
All the building work appears to be
going well and the roofs will be on the new classrooms well in
time before the rainy season.
Although it is nearing the
end of the tourist season we still had some visitors at Sunrise
this week. Many of our visitors bring useful resources for the
classes at Sunrise. Pencils are cheap and readily available in
The Gambia, but books, jigsaws and games are very expensive and
Madam Fofana and Denise are unpacking
the four boxes of resources brought by regular visitors, Rudy
and Yolanda Nachtegaal and their friends.
Here are Anne and Paul
Courtney - together with Yvette and Jonny Carr and also
Lamin who helped them find their way to Sunrise. They brought
resources which they had seen listed on our website and on our
Amazon wish list.