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Week ending 12th April

Rudy and Yolanda Natchegaal visited Sunrise this week, they are regular visitors and always bring welcome gifts for the school.

A group from Sunrise visited Albreda - this was the fifth time that Sunrise students have visited this famous historical village.


These two photos show some of the students at Banjul terminal waiting for the ferry to cross to the North Bank.

These visits are part of a Peer Health Exchange aiming to give young people the knowledge they need to make informed decisions regarding the health of their bodies.

During the visits both school listen to talks and perform dramas about subjects such as tuberculosis, early marriage, teenage pregnancies, HIV and AIDS.




  They were hosted as usual by a local secondary school, who are hosted by Sunrise, when their school crosses to our side of the river.

They visited the island famous for its namesake, Kunta Kinte, a character in Alex Haley's novel, Roots, about an African man sold to slavery in America.


They also went to Fort Bullen, which was built by the British in 1826 to try to stop the slave traders. Fort Bullen is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Week ending 7th April

Sports Day at last! This year there were 280 people from Sunrise and 92 from London Corner and because of the large number involved, sports day was held this year at the community field in Bakoteh. Here are some of the participants ready to set out for the field, a short distance from Sunrise.

The programme started at 10am and continued till 4pm so as there is no shade in the field, canopies were hired and erected to provide shade for those who wanted to spend a little while out of the sun.

The participants were divided into four kundas (houses) and winners in each event gained points for their kunda. The tug of war is always eagerly awaited and enthusiastically watched by many spectators!


After all the races and the tug of war, with music helping to keep everyone lively, it was time to go back to school and present medals to the winners, pictured here.

When all the points had been added up, the winners this year were Fran Kunda with 390 points, closely followed by Dawn Kunda with 384 points. Tony Kunda were third with 358 points and last year's winners, Kenny Kunda came last with 322 points. Here is Ali Bah presenting the trophy to Fran Kunda.

After all the excitement they were all ready to have a rest and eat the meal of benachin provided for everybody. It looks like Abdoulie is really appreciating his drink after the exertions of the day!


Week ending 31st March

This week we said goodbye to Chris and Steve and thanked them for all their help during the last few weeks. Steve, as well as many other jobs around the school, has worked on finding and repairing all the broken chairs around the school and making sure that the grade 6 will have enough chairs and tables when the new class starts in September.

Working on the 'waste not want not' principle he also made these water buckets from old oil bottles used when Susan prepares breakfasts.

Chris usually helps in the nursery, but during their last week Chris spent her time in the library with our new library assistant, Ndey Amie.

  Skills students have been doing more batik practicals - due to the lack of light it is very difficult taking photos in the bantaba without professional cameras and expertise!

Nursery 1 have to be introduced into handling books. This is something that not many of them will see at home for books are very expensive and few adults will read anything other than a newspaper. If any visitors to Sunrise have room in their suitcase for any strong cardboard books they would be much appreciated.

Nursery 1 again, but this time practising for sports day. They were trying to run round the bottle and back keeping a bean bag balanced on their heads, with obvious enjoyment but not with a lot of success in this case! (Bean bags would also be a very welcome gift from any visitors)

Week ending 24th March

A very successful fire drill was held. Students of all ages walked out of their classrooms quietly and lined up by the school exit. Teachers can be seen here calling the registers to make sure no one has been left behind!

Nursery 1 are concentrating on threading the beads, they enjoy doing this and although it may seem to some that they are just playing they learn a lot from this activity and not just the obvious skill of manual dexterity.


The Lower Basic girls' manipulative skills are much more developed than those of Nursery 1 but they enjoy working with these loom bands brought by a GETS supporter on a visit to Sunrise.

Perhaps you can guess that it will soon be sports day - not long now till April 4th.....


  Nursery 3 having fun as they take turns at showing off their skills during a PE lesson!

And it wasn't only the boys!

Week ending 17th March

We are  now getting the uniform material ready for distribution next September, when every classroom at Sunrise will be filled and we will have about 400 students and staff at Sunrise. When  Sunrise first started we had 150 students and the 90 skills students were able to tie dye and sew uniforms for everyone, numbers grew larger so the skills students dyed all the material but only sewed their own uniforms. Now we are at full capacity it has been decided that the skills students will only dye and sew their own uniforms and those for the staff.

Next September our nursery children will still have yellow and white dresses and shirts, but they will be made from checked gingham.  Lower Basic will still have red and white uniforms dresses and shirts, but made from checked gingham. Boys' trousers and skills skirts will continue to be brown.

All this material for the new uniforms has to be stored somewhere till needed in September, it has always been stored in the old office, so this year new shelving has been provided to store both it and other needlework materials and equipment tidily. This photo was taken to show the shelves ready for use, but I know it won't take long for them to be fully filled! 

Meanwhile the skills students are busy tie dying their uniform material ready for September


A few weeks ago the blog showed our newly set up library, we have now appointed Ndey Amie Jobe to take care of the library and also books and other general resources in the Lower Basic school.

Here she is working with a group in the library.

Work proceeds slowly on the staff toilets - builders always seem to take their time - and disappear to other jobs!

Week ending 10th March

Cathie McCartan, her partner, Tom, and her two boys, Dougie, 14, and Kenny, 11, came to Sunrise as Cathie wanted her boys to gain an insight into school life in Gambia. They brought many pens, pencils, crayons and colouring books for the school which must have taken up quite a bit of their luggage allowance!

Our cookery teacher, Alimatou Jammeh, had her skills students busy with spring cleaning everything in the bantaba. Cupboards were emptied and everything piled up in various places outside until she considered the bantaba and its cupboards sparkling clean,  ready for the freshly washed equipment to be replaced.

Sunrise had their annual Ebbeh Day - a big party day with non-stop very loud music and all sorts of local food and drink for sale, A big notice was put on the gate and everyone around was invited to join the Sunrise students big party.


The skills students organised the party and made all the food and drinks for sale. Ali Bah and Alimatou Jammeh had worked with them on deciding what they would make, buying the ingredients they needed and working out the costings. so that at the end of the day they would make a small profit, rather than a loss!



Ebbeh was prepared in large quantities as well as other local dishes.
They also made many cupcakes, as these sold well last year.

Before the party got going tables were set out with food and drink.
You can see the bottles of wonjo below and there was baobab juice as well - dancing is thirsty work!

Then the party could start  -- but there are no more pictures after this as our photographer feared for his hearing and let soon after the music got going!


Week ending 3rd March

Barbara and Barry arrived this week. Barry is a trustee and will be visiting Sunrise during the next four weeks, taking the photos for the blog (amongst other tasks!) as Paul and Dawn will be regretfully returning home until their next visit.

There has been a cold wind every day this week. Skills students made a warming green pepper soup, using the charcoal stoves. 

 Followed by eating the results!

  The local welders, whose workshop is only a few yards from Sunrise, have made lockable gates to enclose the space under the bantaba table in the tie and dye area. This provides secure storage space for the large pots and bowls used in tie and dye and batik, which had been previously kept in the old store room, now in the process of being turned into staff toilets.

Walking past the empty Lower Basic grade 5 classroom the writing left on the blackboard from a previous maths lesson brought back memories of schooldays.......

Further along the corridor Chris was hard at work using sticky backed plastic to cover all the 120+ text books we have just bought for grade 6 to use during the next academic year.  Next September will see all our Lower Basic classrooms in use, grade six having worked their way up through the school, most of them having started with us in our nursery. 

The Gambia Basic and Secondary Education Course comprises textbooks for English, Maths and Integrated Studies books to be used by Lower Basic Grades 1-4. followed by English, Maths, Science and Social and Environmental Studies for Grades 5 and 6.

I wonder which side won the debate?

Week ending 24th February

Giles and Judy Pepler visited Sunrise this week, they had been looking forward to meeting the two skills students that they sponsor and found them in Mr Darboe's class.

Mr Darboe was telling the students that rubbish should be sorted. Rubbish is a huge problem in Gambia, they have no official recycling schemes or regular rubbish collections for householders. Sunrise produces a lot of rubbish every day and our caretakers have been following the usual Gambian practice of heaping it all up and trying to burn it. Mr Darboe and some of the students were sorting through a pile of recently burnt rubbish to remove all the metal for a scrap man to come and collect.

Skills students have also been busy this week doing batik practicals. Two weeks ago the blog showed Mr Darboe giving the students ideas for patterns and below the class are starting to draw their patterns on the white bazin.

The wax is melted on a charcoal stove-

  Now the students are able to add the melted wax to the areas that they do not want to take the colour when dipped n the dye.

Some of the other students are mixing dyes with the help of Mr Darboe.

Interested students look at the work in progress!

Eventually their patterns are hung on the line to dry in the sun.

As I was walking near the nursery I saw pieces of paper on the sand weighted down by stones, so being curious, I went to investigate. They were by Nusery 1 so I asked Mbacho what the pieces of paper were. As she thought they must be dry by now, she brought them in and put them on the table in front of their creators so that I could take this picture of their patterns.

Week ending 17th February

Wendy and Philip Pulling came to Sunrise this week. As they sponsor a girl in LB5 and a boy in LB3, they were delighted to have the opportunity to meet them again. They also took met and took photos of a student in Skills 2 who is sponsored by their friend back home.

Lower Basic 5 have been studying a balanced diet during recent science lessons. They followed this up by studying three different meals, then preparing and cooking them, with the help of their teacher, Bakary Saidy, LB4's teacher, Fatou Cham and Skills' teacher, Fatou Bojang.

First thing in the morning they went to the market and bought the ingredients needed, then took them into the bantaba to wash and prepare them.

Charcoal stoves were set up outside the bantaba.

Everybody had a turn at stirring the pots on the stoves.

Meanwhile these girls were busy picking out all the unwanted bits from the rice, ready for it to be cooked.

When all the cooking was done, the pots went into the bantaba for a final stir before the food was shared out between them all.

LB5 had great fun doing all this, especially eating the results of all their work!

  A big event this week was the opening of our library, after a lot of hard work by various people. We have had all the books stored away in boxes up to now, to keep the books clean and safe. The first job was to clear and clean the library, this was done by some of our skills students. Boxes full of books are heavy so the boys were a great help with lifting the boxes and reaching tall shelves!

With the library clean, the boxes were returned to the library and Chris and Dawn started to sort the books into categories.

The geography corner

 The LB 4 and 5 teachers, Fatou Cham and Bakary Cham started displaying books suitable for the Lower Basic pupils on the three lower shelves.

Books more suitable for the skills students and teachers were put on the top two shelves, then the workers had their picture taken in front of the shelves ready for use.

LB4 and LB5 were the first classes to use the library. Ndey Haddy, on the right, imediately chose to start reading The Jungle Book as she had seen the DVD at home.

Njange, seen here with Ruth,  was intrigued with the pictorial atlas

Skills 2 using the library, with their teacher, Mr Bah.

A much longer blog than usual this week because we took so many pictures!

A footnote - nursery boys enjoying a game of football!

Week ending 10th February

Some of Mr Darboe's friends from Germany visited Sunrise this week. Mette Christesen is the chairwoman of 'Nice to be Nice', a charity helping a school in Kanifing.

We are beginning to think about preparing for our Grade 6 starting in September. Our last empty classroom now has the 23 tables for which there was no room in the very full container of school furniture and resources brought across by Carry Cargo about two years ago. These tables came via Moneypipe, who will send parcels and small loads in the containers they send to The Gambia each month. Google these firms if you are thinking of sending anything across to The Gambia, we can recommend them. Steve is busy repairing any chairs broken by students over the years so that there are enough for the Grade 6 classroom. 

Chris has been showing the skills students how to crochet. Some of them are so enthusiastic they keep their crochet in their schoolbags ready for filling in any spare time! If anyone coming to visit Sunrise could bring some more crochet hooks (or knitting needles) we would be very grateful.

Mr Darboe has started preparations for an approaching practical session for batik. The class have been discussing and drawing various patterns they could make.


Nursery 3, helped by their classroom assistant, Binta Jammeh, are matching words to pictures. After they have done this, the pictures are taken away and the children use their knowledge of phonics to sound out and blend the simple words like hen and box without the help of the pictures.

In Lower Basic Grade 1 the children begin to read individually from a graded reading scheme, Ginn 360. We are very grateful to the Welsh school who gave them to us when they changed to a newer reading scheme, and would welcome any additional Ginn 360 books to add to these. In the picture above, Dawn is hearing the girl read whilst the boy is reading his book to himself, waiting for his turn. As in all classes there is a wide range of abilities.


Muslim children at Sunrise also learn to read (and write) in Arabic. This boy is chanting the words written on the blackboard in Arabic and the rest of the class are repeating them after him.

While the Muslims in the class study Islamic religious knowledge, the small number of Christians go to a separate area to study their own religion.

Lower Basic Grade 5 were working on a group project in mathematics. Their Gambian text book told them that they had to pay various bills using postal orders so they had to work out which denominations of postal order they needed to complete the total amount that they had to send to pay each bill.





Weeks ending 3rd February

Schools are now almost back to normal after being closed due to the problems following the presidential election. Tourists are beginning to arrive again and Paul and Dawn are now at Sunrise for the next four weeks.

Sunrise opened again on Monday and despite lower numbers on the first day, the average attendance at Sunrise this week was 90%.  This picture was taken around eight o'clock as students are arriving ready for the start of school at 8.30 am

Builders have been busy during the Christmas holidays and completed a new soak away to provide better drainage from the bantaba - the sink below the tap Susan is using to fill her bucket was continually overflowing.

Having collected the water she needed Susan went back to the kitchen to start preparing the morning breakfast.



Breakfast time - here is Fatou Nyassi handing out bread, (filled with a savoury spaghetti mix today) to the nursery children as they help themselves to a drink of juice.

The builders have also started work on the toilets for the staff, extending the space occupied by the old original storeroom.  When we took over the centre that was the only storeroom we had, now there are several at different places around the school.

Work in progress!

And in nursery 2 as well!

Weeks ending 20th January

Apologies for no blogs yet this term, due to the current political problems in The Gambia and the absence of anyone available to take photos. Hopefully the blog will continue next week, when Dawn and Paul plan to be in The Gambia. Meanwhile if you know anyone who would like to sponsor a student at Sunrise, here are the photos of some students currently seeking sponsorship.

Fattmatou Abdoul Azeez

D.O.B. 22/08/2011

Nursery 2 






 Isa Gaye

 D.O.B. 09/07/2009

 Lower Basic 1






Ebrima Faye


Lower Basic 2







Mariama Darboe

D.O.B. 16/09/95

Skills 2