The latest news from
GETS in Gambia



As Sunrise expands we will need more funds to run the centre - could you help us by sponsoring a class?


Week ending 15th July 2016

We had many pictures from our Graduation of Skills Training Students, those leaving the school successfully after their 3 year course had been completed. The class of students is most important of course but we have many individual prizes and presentations too.

 We had a guest speaker, Mrs Fatou Saine Gaye, who talked about the overall theme for the day: “Skills for self employment”. This is a theme that The Gambia has chosen to promote to help get businesses started and the work that we do teaching skills, including business practice training, fits well into this area.

 Jennifer Ofili helped us decorate the Hall and top table to give a professional approach to the day's events. She is shown here receiving a prize from Fatou Gaye.

Our students have all worked with employers in either tourism and hospitality or tailoring and sewing and some of their employers came to help on the day and hear how we have doing in school.

One of the graduation cakes (the one with the fireworks!) was made by Larry's Fashions, who supported two students. Our thanks go to all who support our students, of course.



The catering was all down to our Cookery and Hospitality Teacher, Mrs Alimatou Jammeh, who did a great job and was awarded a certificate of appreciation, presented by Fatou Gaye.


Alimatou also supervised the production of the second Sunrise Centre made cake (the green one).

 Amongst the many prizes we gave an award for the best overall student to Adama Jallow, presented by Mariama Jarra from our SMC.


Mrs Ceesay awarded Mustapha Jabang (Head Boy) the prize for the best sewing student.


Sunrise Centre is now closed after another busy but successful year. During the break this summer we will be doing more building projects, there will be an update in next year's blog of course.

The teachers are also running a trial Lower Basic Summer School. We’re all interested to see how successful this 5 week course is and how many children will come to have an early look at their subjects for next the academic year.

 Our blog will restart at the end of September, when the school re-opens in all areas - hopefully the rainy season will have finished by then!



Week ending 15th July 2016

It is always sad when a family member dies but when a loved one passes away suddenly, in the prime of life, then it is truly devastating.

This was the news passed on to GETS about one of our supporters, Kare Jackson, by her husband Karl. Karl has had to try and cope with this loss and explain to others what has happened to change his whole world, literally overnight.

 A collection from the family and many friends of Kare Jackson has been used to build up a fund to help others and Karl has decided that Kare would have liked this money to come to GETS, to invest in the Sunrise Centre as a lasting legacy to his lovely wife.

Kare and Karl had  planned to visit Sunrise in 2017 and meet the children who are helped by our kind supporters, but sadly this was not to be.

We are planning to use the money given by this collection to do work throughout the school but particularly in the library, in Kare’s name, so that something of her kindness remains within The Gambia for years to come.

We are planning to replace the wooden library windows with sand-proof aluminium ones, since we have so much wind-blown sand, straight from the nearby Sahara Desert, entering the upstairs rooms in school which makes keeping books on open shelves really difficult.

We also plan to fully shelve one wall of the library too and begin to use the room properly at last.

Thanks for all this go to Kare Jackson.


 Last week we had a lightning storm that burnt out our office electricity supply. The school inverter that turns solar and battery power into mains power was destroyed and we have had to invest in a new one. The lightning also burnt out the school internet service too. An Indian company (Suk-Kam) makes these mains inverters and they are pretty reliable on the whole so we hope that improving surge protection and supplying more earthing may give us a few extra years before the next problem. Expensive thing is a lightning strike and this seems to happen most years in the Sunrise Centre!


This week we are preparing for the Skills Training Graduation ceremony. This is when our successful Third Year Skills Training students are formally presented with certificates before they leave us, but probably more importantly, they enjoy a celebration party for family and school friends at our expense! The Sunrise Centre entertains around 200 people, with music and speeches, the Skills Choir, small plays and readings by students, plus usually very loud disco music to dance along to. Though in Africa a makeshift drum seems to work nearly as well!

 This picture shows our choir rehearsing to the Lower Basic school audience in our Hall, which has just been repainted for the first time since we took over the centre in 2011.

We have had frantic cooking preparations in the Bantaba and also food is being bought (sausage rolls) and prepared as early as possible. We’re hoping there will be no power cuts and we will have electricity to run our fridge and other things too of course on graduation day .


Weeks ending 8th July 2016

 These weeks are the end of the Holy month of Ramadam, culminating in the prayers at Koriteh Day or Eid Ul Fitr (in Arabic). The school was closed for one week during this period.

 Koriteh means basically a feast of relief which is held on the night after Ramadan on the 9th month of the Muslim calendar.

 On Koriteh morning Gambian men wearing their newest Kaftans and women wearing the latest Grand Mbubas go for a short prayer to their local mosques and listen to a quick sermon in the morning around 10 a.m. Giving alms is expected so you will often find physically challenged people outside mosques.



After the Koriteh prayers people visit friends and family and ask for forgiveness for their sins against them and pray for peace, good health and luck for the country for the coming year.

 It is also common around this time to see specially placed ads in newspapers wishing the president good health and best wishes.

Children may also come knocking on your door asking for "Salibo" (money or sweets) which is similar to what children do in the west on Halloween. Then follows day-time and evening celebrations which can take on many forms including night clubbing!

 (taken from the web site - Access Gambia)

Week ending 24th June 2016

School continues towards the period of the rainy season. We often have an odd shower or more likely thunder storm before the rains start properly but this doesn’t change the build up of heat and humidity that anticipates the “real rains” very much.

 In LB4, Mr Saidy has finished the bulk of Grade 4 English work and is teaching his class work from an advanced English Grammar book that he owns personally. Here is one of his work groups listening intently. They have been answering his probing questions and writing very neat notes at his direction. Mr Saidy is an very experienced and excellent teacher who has controls his class easily with great skill. His class of 9/10 year olds are doing well.

 Elsewhere in Nursery, Mrs Fatou Sanneh has been reading a story book to her children in N3. They are captivated by the story and respond easily to questions that she asks to keep all the children involved. Even the quiet ones. Sometimes she switches to local language to encourage a child whose English is a bit slower, explaining what she needs to know from the child.




Mr Saidy has also been invited into Mrs Fatou Cham’s LB3 class, since he has an enthusiasm for science and the syllabus calls for demonstrations on the 3 states of water. Freezing water down to ice (in the kitchen fridge/freezer), then boiling it to steam before condensing it back to water again.

Whilst one of our classroom assistants handled Mr Saidy’s LB4 class, he came and worked with Mrs Cham and Sulayman Jobe, another classroom assistant, to set up the home made science experiment. This consisted of tin cans, a gas pipe and a local charcoal cooking stove, all connected to allow the heating and condensing experiment to be performed. All worked perfectly.

It was great to see teachers using what is to hand to do these kind of interactive demonstrations. The children were captivated!



Week ending 17th June 2016

At Sunrise we always have local ladies into the school to sell their produce so that the children and students have more choice. The breakfasts are still provided by the school kitchen, thanks to our sponsors, but it wouldn’t be the same without the local food sellers. The picture shows Ida, who sells juices, mainly wanjo (made from the sorrel plant) and baobab (made from the tree). Both delicious although rather sweet too. Ida has been bringing her latest offspring quite often too, who seems to sleep not matter how noisy it gets in the hall during break.

 Also at break time it is usual to see the staff relaxing and usually enjoying some fun after eating breakfast. Now we are in the middle of the Muslim month of Ramadam, things are a little quieter and the majority fast during the hours of daylight (unless they are sick or pregnant).




One of the principles used at the Sunrise Centre is child centred learning. It was interesting to see that the only writing on the blackboard (apart from the day and date) in Mrs Sanneh’s  Nursery 3 English lesson was the word “good”, written by Diminga Davies. This was work to accompany the subject of story time when the children were being taught about good and bad from one of the many resources that the teacher could use.

 It was good to see that the Skills 1 students had been doing work in the  sewing class of which they could be proud, taught by teacher Fatou Bojang. Her classroom assistant Fatou Nyassi, a former student at Sunrise, helped the students with the tricky process of cutting out the pattern. The picture shows the very best of this work, sewn and modelled by Kinta Isna. Kinta and the rest of the class had made quite a complex (lab) coat with pockets that would protect them in their practical work from spills that are possible in their other subjects of Tie and Dye, Batik and cookery. Generally the students stay remarkably clean but this coat will definitely help on occasions!

Week ending 10th June 2016

This week our Cookery teacher, Mrs Alimatou Jammeh, has been asking for sharp knives to help her with her Gambia Hotel School teacher training course. This school is now called Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute and is where we sponsor her to develop her cookery skills to the next level (from Certificate to Diploma). The very same week we were given an almost complete set of high quality knives by Mrs Rosie Holder (Tony’s sister), who has been in the Gambia helping another charity that runs a cafe called Shalom, based in Senegambia.


 Teachers often create their own classroom “art” and the poster of a mosquito by Mrs Fatou Cham (G3) is an excellent example of the skills that we have amongst our teaching staff.


 We now have a few children coming to Sunrise regularly on bikes each day. Travel distances for the children can range from across the neighbourhood road to many miles away and travel costs mount up for parents. Bikes are a good option, once the initial costs are available. The sand roads around the area can be tricky and cars dangerous but the speed of the traffic is mostly quite slow. There are tarmac roads too, in some places which are considerably more dangerous.

We are considering putting bike racks into the school to make things a bit more organised.

We had a planned visit from a teacher from the Nova Scotia Gambia Association. This is an organisation which supports efforts to teach teenagers and young people Peer Health Training on Life Skills. This fits well with our training course on the same topic in Sunrise and we sometimes work together as organisations to spread the word on this important topic.

Week ending 3rd June 2016

This is the last week before the Islamic festival of Ramadan and a lot goes on before the fasting begins, when energy supplies are much lower. The youngest children and anyone who is ill does not have to fast. 

We are still enjoying somewhat cooler weather and the Skills students are making the most of this with energetic games of football. Boys and girls all join in and the competition is quite something to watch.

 We’ve just sprayed our garden for termites. The feeling is that the newly planted seeds are being eaten by these tenacious creatures. Normally seeds germinate quickly in the hot soil and with the right amount of constant watering a new crop should be a good size now or the lettuce, carrots and tomatoes that we have planted.

We have had some of the these “beasts” in the woodwork of the school, doing considerable damage in some places. We spray with insecticide each time but it’s a tough process to keep them at bay.






Tuesday and Thursday are assembly days for the Nursery school. Teachers engage the children in lots of songs and ask questions that get hands shooting up. Some of the children seem to lack energy at times and we hope that isn’t a sign of illness.

 This week we had a visit from our good friend, Mrs Fatoumatta Chow. She has enormous experience in the education sector of The Gambia and often helps us with guidance as one of our longest supporters. We were able to tell Mrs Chow about the up and coming Skills Training Graduation for Year 3 students, due on the 15th July when we will invite Mrs Chow to join our VIPs on the top table.

Week ending 27th May 2016

This week we completed a First Aid course, kindly run for our Year 3 Skills Training students by First Aid 4 Gambia ( ) using their local trainer, Momodou Laineh, know just as “Laineh”. Laineh (pictured with Mr Cham – Education Director) has been giving the First Aid course over 10 weeks, including practical experience and demonstrations to the students.

The students all showed off the first aid manual that they had been using and were pleased to have picked up another very important skill and a certificate before leaving the school to begin their working lives. Thanks very much to First Aid 4 Gambia.


We often say thanks to supporters but it is very important that people know just how much we value their help. The costs of running the Sunrise Centre far out-weigh the small fees that we collect from the parents of students and pupils who can afford to pay, but we also need to have help from outside the Gambia, not just to build and improve the school but also to maintain it and pay for salaries and resources. The picture shows our plaque to say thank you to our Dutch friends Yolanda and Rudy Nachtegaal, who gave us the money to buy a school notice board. This is one of the most important tools for showing our performance, notices about events and new jobs that we have.


This week we have opened the books for school registration again. This seems early, with the next academic year not starting until late September but we have a lot of pressure on places and need to fill them on a first come, first served basis. It’s good to see the Sunrise Centre education in demand as word spreads about what we do. The parents of returning students and pupils are encouraged to come in early too but are much more likely to leave it until the very last moment  to confirm their child’s place for the next year.


Every morning we still serve a breakfast for the children (free in Nursery) and young adults in Skills. Susan Jarjue, our cook, is pictured serving an orange drink for the 90 nursery children who will line up shortly to demand food and drink at break time. The teachers usually keep them still and quiet until they are re-fuelled, when things tend to become much more lively!




Week ending 20th May 2016

We are still finishing our new nursery wing with small improvements; this time with a secure cupboard that allows us to separate and lock items up with particular value. This is within our general nursery storage area. A coat of “Sunrise” green completes the task.

 Inside our Nursery 1 the children are having a quiet time listening to nursery rhymes before school ends. Some look very tired but it might just be due to a long day for little ones. The class are growing up fast and finding their way in the school world. As ever we have a few real characters amongst them but in time all will grow up and adapt to the new environment.

The Lower Basic children are growing fast too, enjoying break times playing games. Football for the boys generally while the girls enjoy skipping with great skill. Some of the boys enjoy skipping too.


  The Skills Training Students' breakfast happens each day after Lower Basic have had theirs and the students generally sit and eat their sandwiches in the shade.


Some play football too, both girls and boys, although we don’t have many boys in the Skills Training.











Week ending 13th May 2016

Every year at Sunrise we form a school council from the Skills Training Centre, usually from Skills 2 students. These students help to maintain a number of areas in the school such as Time keeping and Dress code. We also have a Head Boy and Head Girl who represent the school on occasion. This year the Head Boy (Augustine Jatta) comes from Skills 1 as there are no Boys in Year2.


 Our Skills 3 students have now come back to school after their successful work placements and are polishing their skills with Batik work. The candle wax is applied under the cover of the hot sun in the Bantaba but the students are usually keen to pose and “show-off” their work during the drying process.

The picture below shows our Head Boy from 2015/16, Mustapha Jabang with his work along-side Owa Drammeh and Kaddy Bojang with their practical work.



It is good to see Mrs Cham with her new copy of the Collins Easy Learning English Verbs book, essential reading for a teacher in training at Gambia College. Not so easy when English isn’t your first language!

 Our garden is going again, finally. Growing seasons are many provided there is ample water applied but the ideal time is just at the ends of the rainy season in September, to maximise the natural processes. We also have a new garden gate to keep our the local lives stock. It is sad that the previous gate was stolen one night sometime ago.

Week ending 6th May 2016

Last week we had 2 holidays (Ascension Day and Workers' Day) which made the school week shorter but as usual there was lots going on.
We had a disaster when one of our precious netbook computers fell from a shelf and developed a cracked screen as a result. Getting new parts are always a challenge but thanks to our friend (Erica Lowe-Darboe) we were able to bring a new screen from the UK to swap for the broken one, we hope! Our Education Director (pictured) is using a new (second hand) PC courtesy of a gift from Denise and Paul Green, which we’ve managed to save for just such an emergency. Thanks to all for helping us.


 We always encourage teachers to work outside the classrooms when they can and our school playground makes an excellent area to conduct lessons. Today Mrs Cham (Teacher) and Sulayman Jobe (Classroom assistant) are teaching about measurement in small groups. They debated questions like “How many containers of sand make a kilogram?” and “How many bottle tops of water fit in a litre bottle?”



Over the weekend we finally managed to complete the painting of all the playground equipment.


This has made the area much more attractive and it’s great to see the children trying to see “How many Nursery children fit on a climbing frame?”





Week ending 29th April 2016

Every week we are treated to Assemblies, with Nursery, Skills Training and Lower Basic all meeting together in the Hall. Today it was the Nursery schools turn with a lovely rendition of the Gambia’s National Anthem from the children, aged between 3 and 6 years old.


Our third year skills training students have been practising their cookery skills again by making a mock-up of a graduation cake.

 It tasted really, really good. Light and very fresh!



We are delighted that of the students graduating from Sunrise this year, 70% have promises of jobs from their work experience employers. This came as a direct result of their work experience places. A great result for staff and students.


The school is also a focus for community health care that often begins with the youngest in the area. This time a group of health workers visited bringing the vaccination programme for measles and rubella (German measles).

More than 200 Children, up to 14 years old, were all vaccinated, taking up quite a lot of time during our day. Not all were pleased to receive the injection but most were quite brave!






Week ending 22nd April 2016

This week we had our regular fire practice for the whole school. Evacuation took just over 3.5 minutes to complete. The photo shows the classes being checked by the teachers, next to the front gate. We had to chase out our builders, who were in Sunrise at the time as well, to this area too, but all went well.

 We have also to say good bye to Barry Young who has been helping us for a couple of weeks again, this time as a full Trustee of GETS. This gave him quite a different view of what we are trying to achieve every day, sometimes in a challenging environment. Barry is pictured saying goodbye to our Education Director, Mr Alkali Cham.

 Friday was taken over by our annual sports day. The Sunrise Nursery classes joined with children from London Corner Nursery school (run by a Scottish Charity based in Dumbarton, which is administered for them by Helen). This meant that 180 small children aged below 6 were split into 4 house groups (called Kunda’s in The Gambia).

 These 4 groups completed in the usual array of sports like the 50m sprint, potato race (actually tennis balls), sack race , bean bag and hard fought tug-of-wars.


We went to a nearby sports field to get a bit more space but we lost out a bit on shade as a result. We had great support from staff and some of the skills students who managed to sort out the results of each race to ensure that the points were all awarded fairly.

Back to Sunrise later for Benachin, prepared by the cooks from both schools to feed all the children and staff.


Prize giving followed this for the individuals, followed by the award of the Kunda cup to overall winners from Father Kenny’s Kunda.

 The final results were carefully calculated as –
First         Father Kenny’s Kunda     300 points
Second    Fran Walker’s Kunda       280 points
Third       Tony Nelson’s Kunda       243points
Fourth     Dawn Webster’s Kunda   229 points



Week ending 15th April 2016

Today the 3rd year Skills Training students were doing their final practical examinations, making colourful fabrics with the Kosi design processes. Kosi is a form of resist dyeing using a flour paste. The paste is spread evenly over the cloth with the hands and then removed, in the shape of a design block, which scrapes away the paste. When dyed it leaves the background white and the design coloured. The paste can also be applied over a stencil so that just the lines of a design will remain when the non-paste areas take the dye.


 It’s still standard practice in Sunrise to provide a breakfast for all staff and pupils. The youngest get this with a drink free of charge and generally queue patiently for collection from the Kitchen each morning around 1030.



One of the things that we’ve had to do in our time at Sunrise is to replace things that wear out or get accidentally broken. These maintenance costs are a part of running every school but it is sad when we have to replace an item that has been stolen. Our simple garden gate is one such example. This has been essential to protect crops from animals (goats/sheep) that sometimes appear in the Sunrise compound. One night over the holidays, it had simply disappeared!

We still have visits from our building team to help with repairs or to complete work or small modifications to the building. Today the team foreman, Abdolie, was repairing/completing the ceiling in the new Nursery wing store.


Week ending 8th April 2016

Last week the Sunrise Centre was closed for the whole of the week as part of the Easter Break and school began this week on the Wednesday, making this a shorter week. However we still have plenty of news to report.


Before the Easter Break our Nursery 3 teacher, Fatou Sanneh attended the Graduation ceremony at the Teacher Training College in Brikama, where she was presented with her certificate after formally graduating from her  ECD course, during the previous academic year. She is also pictured here with her good friend, Chris Humphries, who has helped Fatou in many ways over the years. Both were very proud of the achievement.


Our good friends from Holland; Rudy and Yolanda Nachtegaal came to see us again in Sunrise and met up with Helen and also Trustee Barry Young and Head Teacher Alkali Cham, with whom they are pictured in the office.


Rudy and Yolanda brought toys and resources for our younger children and everyone was delighted to discover the many new things that can be used to make teaching fun for the little ones. Some of the children posed with a banner to make sure that Rudy and Yolanda knew of their gratitude. Many thanks from us all.

At the end of this week we had our regular and important PTA meeting.

We had a smaller than usual turnout of parents from the local community but all who came had a keen interest in the workings of the school. They discussed many topics including the community School Management Committee (SMC) who interface with the Trustees to help run the school.

 They also discussed the forthcoming sports day (22/4), recent school excursions, getting a mothers club going and community fundraising to support community lead investment in the school.