Week ending 25th March
In the last week before the Easter break we
said goodbye and thank you to several of our volunteers.
Denise Green has helped us greatly over the last few years in
The Gambia, supporting our administration efforts. Denise and
her husband, Paul, are pictured with Helen, in one of the
tourist areas of the Atlantic strip.
We also said goodbye
to Bjorg Sogn, from Norway. Bjorg has worked in Sunrise since
January, mainly helping in our Lower Basic school. The children
and staff gave Bjorg an African dress to say thank you. Bjorg
also gave us donations for which we are truly grateful.
At the end of the
week we arranged a trip to a school on the North Bank of the
River Gambia at a place called Albreda (linked with the adjacent
village of Juffureh).
Albreda is where the
world famous Roots Museum is situated. This houses important
exhibitions about the dark days of the slave trade from The
Gambia, symbolised in the statue with broken chains and the
phrase “Never Again”.
Around 60 staff,
skills training students and Lower Basic (G4) pupils travelled
from Bakoteh to Banjul where they crossed the 3 mile width of
the River Gambia from Banjul to Barra on the large car and
passenger ferry boat. They all then moved to smaller buses for
the road trip to Albreda.
On arrival, there were
photo opportunities with the local school who supported their
accommodation, pictures by the welcome to Albreda sign and
around the historic defensive canon.
Everyone was schooled
with information from the slavery museum, including a class
about the island that was used to hold slaves before
transportation, now called Kunta Kinteh Island (formerly James
Everyone got the
chance to travel across the middle of the river to the island in
smaller pirogues and see the fort that also defended the river
from others, using 6 large canons. This was most recently run by
the British colonial forces before the UK slave trade act of
1807 and finally was abandoned in 1870.
Week ending 18th March
This was another busy week for staff and
pupils at Sunrise.
Many of the staff were
engaged in a refresher for their first aid skills with lots of
practical work and help from our good friends at First Aid for
Gambia. This is a charity that Bill Nelson leads, to give help
to schools right across The Gambia, all for free. He’s always
looking for extra cash to do more, if you can help.
At Sunrise the staff
got great help from the Trainer, Momadou Lainey, showing Mr
Beyai how to dress Mr Darboe’s hand then later putting Mr Darboe
into the recovery position.
The training also
involved CPR and is certificated so all attendees can feel
properly confident in their abilities.
We said thank you and
goodbye to our good friends Steve and Chris Humphries who have
helped us again this year, staying since January on this trip.
Steve wields a roller and a paintbrush for us to help with
maintenance and Chris helps the teachers with extra support,
usually with reading. The children drew a poster with the words,
“We will always remember you” and “We are saying thank you”.
It’s lovely that the Sunrise children showed their appreciation.
We also have a new
caretaker starting to help improve the school security as we
continue to invest money in the Sunrise Centre. His name is
Basiru Jarju and he joined us at the start of March. Basiru
left school two years ago and worked at a Lottery Company until
all Lottery Companies were directed by the government of The
Gambia to close down, as part of the removal of gambling
enterprises within the country. Basiru likes watching football,
listening to music and browsing the internet during his spare
The week ended with
the Lower Basic school outing to the Bijilo Monkey Park and the
beach. The children were well supervised and well behaved, as
usual, but very excited and made the most of their time.
logistics of getting so many children safely around shouldn’t be
under estimated but the children did all that they should,
including calling “Hello Mr Monkey”
enjoyed a great lunch, then had fun at the beach.
call with Mrs Cham
Week ending 11th March
This week is was a big one in the calendar
of the nursery children at Sunrise because they went on a trip
to the Bijilo Monkey Park.
All the nursery
trouped off to meet up with a bus to take them on the short
journey and accompanied by many staff to supervise they arrived
at the forest park. This is an area of original, untouched
Gambian forest, filled with bird life and of course monkeys
(mostly green vervet – pictured and also some red colobus)
The children had a
great time entertaining the monkeys, or was it the other way
A takeaway lunch was
prepared by the nearby Musa Bedula's restaurant. We had help
with the lunch costs through donations from Chris and Steve
Humphries, also from Ian and Maureen Boyd, Paul and Mary.
The food all handed out
they sat at the edge of the surf to enjoy their lunch -
carefully supervised by the teachers (including Mr Bah).
A trip to a beach that is so close to
the school is a great treat for our children, who often don’t go
without our help. They have a wonderful time in the waves and
thoroughly enjoy themselves.
The Nursery children drew pictures and
wrote “Thank you we had a happy day”. Thank you from GETS as
well, of course to all who helped.
Week ending 4th March
Ebbeh Day went well with a host of
students and also some teachers dancing in the hall to music in
true African style. We were well supported as everyone came to
buy food and drinks, each priced at D5 (around 8p in UK).
We were delighted to
see some of the community as well who called by, including Mr
Andrew Sambou (pictured shaking hands with Mr Beyai) who helps
run the School Management Committee, which represents parents
and the community in the running of the school.
Sunrise is often
full of music as the children and students love to sing.
Assembly times are quite noisy on occasions and a good way to
start each day as the children warm up for school in the
mornings. They wear extra clothes too at this time of day, as
the pictures shows.
We have a school
thermometer in the Hall (that Mr Bah is shown explaining to some
skills students). It doesn’t seem to move very much to me,
mostly being stuck in the 30’s!
Later we had Batik
practical work in process under the cover of the Bantaba, as
students practised putting hot wax onto material before applying
Mr Darboe is in
attendance supervising the students using a “local stove”. This
is a charcoal fired heat source that is often used for cooking
or making attaya (a kind of very sweet green tea) but here is
being used to melt the wax.
Week ending 26th February
Change has always been a part of Sunrise
for students and the staff. We have become used to trying find
new people to help us deliver a quality education at the centre.
We have been advertising in local papers again to find an
experienced local Gambian to work in the Sunrise Office. We are
delighted that we have been able to recruit Georgette Coker.
Georgette joined us at
Sunrise in February as the newly appointed Office Administrator.
She previously worked at the British Embassy as a Senior
Receptionist for nearly 23 years. In her spare time she enjoys
singing, mainly with her church group.
During this period we
also said good bye to Ruth McMeechan. Ruth has been coming to
support us for some time now, helping mainly in the Lower Basic
School. As a long experienced teacher, Ruth is able to turn her
hand to the many challenges that teaching in a Gambia school
throw at you every day.
made many friends and they all gathered to say goodbye to
Ruth at she returned to her home in the UK. GETS is indebted to
Ruth, who gives her time freely like all of our volunteers.
A big event in the
school calendar each year is our Ebbeh Day. Ebbeh, after which
the day is named, is a delicious sort of crab broth, with all
sorts of flavours, including peppers!
This week we caught
some of the preparation work for the event, which is a bit like a school
fete in the UK. Our Senior teacher, Mr Bah, was caught helping
to stir the pot and many hands got involved in preparing the
various dishes and drinks that we served that day. More in next
Week ending 19th February
This week one of the skills classes were
having some practical tie and dye experience - the pictures will
tell the story!
Week ending 12th February
Friday we had a "mufti day" or
non-uniform day when students came in ethnic dress and prizes
were awarded for the best costumes.
Here are some of the prize winners -
Baboucarr Ceesay -
Ida Jagne - N3 - with Mr
Sally Gomez - LB1 - with
Isatou A Jallow -
Abdou Rahman Mass Jobe -
LB - with Mrs Ceesay
Augustine Jatta - Skills
- with Mr Saidy
Aminata Sheriff and
Bintou Susso - Skills
Mrs Jawara -
Week ending 5th February
On Monday the Skills classes had their
first practical of the term. Here Fatou Manneh is piping
shortbread butter biscuits
At the end of the session the students
prepared a tray with examples of the doughnuts, sausage rolls
and biscuits they had made, these were for the staff to sample
and pass judgement - their verdict was "Excellent, especially
Giles and Judy Pepler were
our first visitors this week. They already sponsor a class but
Judy wanted to sponsor two Sunrise students as well. Here they
are looking at the photos of Sunrise students on the
Need Sponsors page on our website. Judy decided to sponsor
the two first year skills students who were waiting for a
sponsor and was delighted to be able to meet and talk to both of
Another visitor this week
was Chris' daughter, Selina Taroni, who sponsors Momodou Alpha
Ntul - another happy photo!
Some of Nursery 2 were
engrossed in colouring in shapes when I passed their classroom.
Their teacher, Sally Ceesay, was playing
a game with another group. They were all taking turns at picking
a card from the cards face down on the table and see if they
could match it with one of the face up cards to make a pair. A
good exercise, both in visual discrimination and in taking
Nursery 3 have been talking
about their classroom and making a plan showing where everything
Lower Basic Grade 4 had
their heads down busily doing the work set in their maths
textbook on fractions, this textbook is used by all
Gambian Grade 4 students.
Still in Grade 4 I saw that
Bubacarr had finished his work on comparative adjectives, but he
still looks very thoughtful about something!
Grade 3 were having a time
for reading on their own. We were lucky to be given these books
by a school changing to a newer reading scheme and the children
enjoy reading the stories in these books. Because vocabulary is
gradually introduced and reinforced in stories in a reading
scheme children enjoy the feeling that they are able to read
Bakary Saidy, our Grade 4
teacher, showed Fatou Cham, our Grade 3 teacher how to do a
magic trick with a pack of cards and now he is seeing if she
remembers how to do it!
Grade 3 have been painting
a horse on a piece of sacking -
and showing their work to
the rest of their class.
Week ending 29th January
Our first visitors this week were long time
supporters Dave and Mary Robinson with their friend, Tracy
Tracy had seen our
Need Sponsors page on the
website and wanted to sponsor Abdoulie Jallow, who is in Grade 3
at Sunrise. She met him during the break and you can see how
pleased they were to meet each other!
Visiting also were Rudolf and Ria Ansems from The Netherlands. They live part of the time in Kenya
and were very interested in looking at our nursery as they hope
to add this age to a school which they support in Kenya.
Below are Chris and
Christine Halliday. They are both staying at Oasis and when
Christine told Chris that she wanted to visit a Gambian school
and was thinking about sponsoring a child, Chris brought her to
see us at Sunrise.
Denise Green is now back in The Gambia
again so came on Thursday to use her IT skills to help Helen in
Nursery 2 are doing well
with their phonics and many can blend the sounds they know to
make three letter words - some better than others, of course!
Fatatmata Darboe has put into practice
an idea from her course at Gambia College and has set up a class
shop to help with mathematics. Here she is with a customer from
her class, Margret Mendy.
Gambian schools have to provide a set
number of hours for Islamic studies every week and whilst the
rest of the class are doing this, Paul Badjan takes the few
Christians in the class for religious knowledge.
Grade 4 have been learning
about traditional and modern ways of communication. Later,
during art and craft, they made drums from old tins and
greaseproof paper and had fun drumming, clapping and dancing.
Week ending 22nd January
More visitors this week, Wendy and Phillip
Pulling came to see Adama, the girl in Lower Basic Grade 4 whom
They contrasted sponsoring
at Sunrise with the feed back which they receive from sponsoring
a child with a well known larger charity. Both said how much
they appreciated the chance to meet Adama at work in her
classroom, talk with her and look at her books.
On their tour of the school
our visitors met Alhagie Ceesay in Lower Basic Grade 1 showing his
understanding of addition with "carrying"
Denise Johnson came this week with her father,
Alan, to visit Sunrise and also talk to Helen and Dawn about the
future career choices of two girls whom they
sponsor in their Gambian family.
Abdoulie Sanyang from Nursery 1 is
concentrating on drawing a letter "c" in the sand - part of our
multi-sensory approach to learning.
Nursery 2 are concentrating on colouring
in a picture without going over the edges - all part of
developing fine motor control. If you are visiting Sunrise the
nursery are always very happy to get more colouring and
Meanwhile the Year 1 and 2 skills
classes continue with their normal timetable. Here is Mr Bah
teaching in the new classroom added to Sunrise for the start of
this academic year.
Regular visitor Steve is
often to be seen around Sunrise with a paintbrush in his hand.
Do you think she's saying, "You've missed a bit there!"
Week ending 15th January
Some familiar faces were seen at Sunrise
this week, Dawn and Paul are back at Sunrise and here is Paul
with regular visitors Chris and Steve Humphries.
Jim and Liz Coyle, who sponsor a girl at a
school nearby and also Sponsor a Class at Sunrise, visited this
week, seen here sharing a laugh with Helen.
Whilst the third year skills students are
out on work placements, the first and second year students are
continuing with their usual timetable.
Mr Saidy, who started at Sunrise this
September is seen below making a chart which will show the
results of the examinations taken at the end of the first term.
Any visiting school inspectors expect to see these charts
Mrs Sanneh's class, Nursery 3, have
been learning about seeds growing into plants with flowers and
fruits. At the end of the lesson they cut and pasted pictures to
put them into the correct order.
Week ending 8th January
School started this
week after the Christmas break.
The third year skills
students are out all this term on work placements. One of the
third year students, Fatoumata Singhateh, showed an interest in becoming a teaching
assistant so she is helping Mr Beyai in Grade 1.
The new drinking
fountain is now in place by the Nursery 1 classroom.
Our Grade 2 teacher, Fatamatta Darboe,
is back in school after spending last term at Gambia College as
part of the three year Primary Teaching Certificate course. Teachers on
this course are in full time teaching and from now on she will
be attending the College throughout every school holiday during
the length of the course.
Fatou Cham, our Grade 3 teacher is in
the second year of this course and all the assessments by the
College of her classroom teaching at Sunrise have been
Here are the Lower Basic
school starting their assembly with a Muslim prayer, followed by
The Lord's Prayer.
Below are some of the
Nursery 3 boys enjoying a game of football with our new
caretaker, Omar Cham, during the nursery break.