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.
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
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
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
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
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!
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
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.
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
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
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
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 (www.firstaid4gambia.org
) 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Second Fran Walker’s Kunda 280
Third Tony Nelson’s Kunda 243points
Fourth Dawn Webster’s Kunda
Week ending 15th April
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
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
Week ending 8th April
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
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
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.