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Weeks ending 21st July 2017 - end of term

In this period we had two key events for the Students of Skills Training. The first was Graduation, aimed at the Skills 3 leavers, who are all going into the world outside of Sunrise to fulfil their many ambitions, or so we hope. We've already heard that 60% had had follow-up offers from some of the employers that they helped during work experience from January to April, earlier this year.

 The Graduation ceremony was held in our school hall for 23 successful Graduates. They each received a certificate and  a number of prizes were given out to show appreciation for hard work. These went to Yassin Jallow for English, Fatou Ceesay for Maths, Kaddy Jarju for Sewing, Saffie Jarju   for Tye n Dye & Batik, Fatou Ceesay for Cookery and most punctual,  Fatou Badjie for Most Disciplined student and Penda Jallow for Life Skills, First Aid and Overall Best Student. Our Head Boy, Augustine Jatta, was also given a Certificate of Appreciation given in recognition of his dedication and hard work.


Our good friend, Nfamara Jarju did a great job again at keeping the programme running, as Master of Ceremonies.

The hall was beautifully decorated by our friend, Mrs Jennifer Ofili, who was also our guest speaker this year. We were delighted to hear her talk about "Skills for Self Reliance". This was aimed at encouraging the students to gain confidence in themselves to run their own businesses with the skills that they have gathered.


We were pleased that there were many attendees from the leadership of the local community and of course our School Management Committee (SMC) were well represented too. We had a top table that included our good friend and supporter, Mrs Fatoumatta Chow, who also lives in the local community.

 Although the Trustees weren't able to attend, Mr Cham arranged for Iastou Jallow (one of our most confident Lower Basic readers) to deliver a speech put together on behalf of the Charity, written by Tony. The photo shows Nfamara Jarju watching Isatou with interest as she reads it out.

 Some of the Lower Basic School children did a cultural performance which everyone enjoyed.


And of course there was cake and food for everyone, prepared by Alimatou Jammeh, our cookery teacher, along with the students.

 The day was a little challenging due to rain storms during the day but as usual, everyone made the best of the event and all had a thoroughly good time. 


The last week of term also was a key event for the remaining students from Years 1 and 2, who visited the fantastic facility at MyFarm. This is the same project that the Nursery children had visited earlier in the year.

 My Farm is run by African Startup and is based at Nema Kunku. It is a charity based organisation that tries to help with education in agricultural innovation, environmental protection, entrepreneurship and new innovative learning methods for basic literacy, numeracy, logic and concepts. (See ).

The photo shows the students and staff arriving at the entrance to MyFarm.

 The students, guided by Martin and Kelly and the staff, enjoyed seeing the garden with many things growing including strawberries, cabbages, nana (local mint) and tomatoes.

They visited the MyFarm shop to look at the produce on sale before going on to the fishpond.


Later the students enjoyed the explanation of how a solar dryer can be used to dry and preserve leaves.

They were intrigued with this solar parabolic cooker and told how it works.

It was interesting to see how MrFarm use tents, not to keep heat in (as in Europe) but to keep pests off the plants.

 The students came away with lots of ideas and we hope they will try a few out as a result.

 End of term is now upon us. The school closes this week until mid of September when the registration period begins, although staff are running a summer school for Lower Basic children to start on next year's syllabus.

This time of year is a testing time for travelling as most surfaces are quickly covered by the regular heavy rains that come during the summer break period.

These photos show just how heavy these can be. They were taken looking out of the hall onto the playground and onto the new surface of shells at the front of the school.

 The blog will return at the start of the new school year in late September when, hopefully, the rainy season will be nearly over.

Weeks ending 30th June 2017

We are now well into the last academic year with the rains just around the corner but before that we have to celebrate the Graduation of our successful Skills Training Year 3 students who will leave us to begin their chosen career paths, more on this soon.

 We also have our National Assessment Test (NATS), this year for our LB3 students. The mocks have been done and we expect the tests before the end of June, when the school will be closed to give “perfect” conditions for concentration, if you don’t count the heat and humidity at this time of year. The picture shows our cool hall and the last LB3 NATS tests.

 We are beginning to get ready for next year by shuffling the furniture about in Lower Basic 6 to make space for the children who will advance from our LB5 class in September. The boys are moving a spare cupboard into the sewing classroom to give more much needed storage space.





 As with all schools cleaning up is important and we are lucky enough to be able to afford good cleaners to go through our classrooms most days of the week. In Nursery 2 chairs have been stacked onto tables to make this process quick and easy. A familiar sight in most schools!

We continue to invest in our staff and a good example of this development. Yassin Jammeh (Classroom Assistant, pictured here directing the boys in LB PE class,  is now about to start a LB Teacher Training course at Gambia College, Brikama, sponsored by GETS.

 Having fun in school is really important as the children develop and it is great to see the children who came to us as new pupils in Nursery 1 being really relaxed and enjoying learning in class. During a singing class, Tony caught a lovely picture of Mirabelle Dampha clearly enjoying life!

Week ending 9th June 2017

This week it was good to hear that Senegambia College was allowed to advertise its training courses for the first time. This is a new college, based nearby, who have been going through an accreditation process with formal bodies that set standards and grant licenses for educational institutes (NAQAA).


They are currently offering HND in Business Management and HND in Tourism Management and we are hoping to enrol our Education Director (Alkali Cham) in the Business Management course to help him do an even better job of running the Sunrise Centre.



Senegambia College is fully equipped with IT facilities and lecture rooms to begin this work very soon.





At the Sunrise Centre we have been getting ready for the rainy season and each year we have had big problems with muddy puddles in the entrance to the school. The result is a huge cleaning challenge during the start of each academic year. This has now been fixed, we hope, by the addition of shells. These are often used as a walkway, although they are rather expensive. Tony asked one of his friends, Nyansu Bah, to go to Banjul and buy small oyster and cockle shells from the fishermen there and deliver them in a large lorry to Sunrise.

 The local staff and male students, including Mr Cham, spread these shells out in the entrance way to fill in the dips in the entrance, provide a walkway and allow free draining during the heavy rains.


Last year we provided new playground equipment for the children and this looked very strong but we are already having to make repairs to the see-saws since one was broken. The students and children make big demands on our maintenance budgets at times!

Week ending 2nd June 2017

This week was again very hectic as usual. We had a lovely lady with a lovely name called Blessing David who came to talk to the Skills students about making healthy relationships within their peer groups. Blessing is a Christian from Nigeria who has been helping in many of the Skills Training Centres within this area of The Gambia as a volunteer.


Practical work in Skills Training involved the cooking of Sweet and Sour Chicken. Binta Touray from Skills 1 brought samples for the office staff. The verdict was that it was really, really good, if a little spicy for some European tastes.

Skills Training students from year 2 have been using the hall for practical work to demonstrate their Bar and Restaurant cooking and serving skills. Lots of fun and some serious learning too.



Break time in Sunrise is also busy but in the quiet of the newly opened library, our new library assistant (Sainabou Sambou) has a collection of avid readers. From left to right they are; Marie Florioun Gomez, Beatrice Loum and Ndey Haddy Kaira. Two of these students have sponsored places at Sunrise, paid for by our generous sponsors. They are all excellent students.

 Our play grounds are also busy in the breaks as the children re-fuel on their morning snacks. Although temperatures are in the mid-thirties today, all sorts of games and high energy activities are normal.

 The season for tourists has finished now but it is still quite a few weeks before any rain is due. The last rains were in October so the country side is very dry in many areas, away from the river Gambia, but there is still a lot of beautiful wildlife thriving everywhere. A small example is this lovely Cream Striped Owl Moth.











Week ending 26th May 2017

We were delighted to be able to run another First Aid course on Saturday with the help of our friends from First Aid for Gambia ( ). Their trainer (Mohamed) Laineh is currently running his usual First Aid certificate course for our current Skills 3 students on one day each week of this, their final term in Sunrise but he also came to train those of our staff whose certificates have expired (or are new to Sunrise).

Above Mr Jaiteh (LB1) is receiving an arm sling from the trainer, then below Mr Jaiteh (now recovered) is putting Susan Jarjue (Cook) into the recovery position.

Fatoumatta Singhatteh (Classroom Assistant) is shown below practicing resuscitation on the practice dummy.

The final picture shows all the staff (including some from the London Corner Nursery School who joined us on the course) with their certificates. All had fun too!

 Also this week we had visits from our friends and supporters, Tessa and Ray Harding. They are pictured with Helen after a tour of the school and our improvements since they last came, 12 months previously. They sponsor 2 children, one an external student and one in Sunrise LB3.


Helen was pleased to go to see Henry (Prestige) Nkoua on the day of his Grade 12 Graduation ceremony from Glory Baptist School. He looks very proud to have reached this key milestone in his education with the help of his sponsor, Kathryn Jonas.

 The Nursery children were drawing pictures about their trip the previous week to My Farm. One of them is reproduced here from Muhammed Njie (N3). A lovely colourful representation of all that he saw and enjoyed.


Finally we had a visit from an ex-GETS sponsored student, Alhagie Alamu, who is part of the Bah family. He came into see Helen to collect school fees for his brother and sister (Modou Lamin and Isatou Bah.) GETS is very grateful to a West Country company (PB Design) who have been helping this family with sponsorship for many years now. Alhagie is now studying at the University of The Gambia, doing the second year of a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing after having won a full scholarship from a foundation called AforA (Academy for Academics). A great opportunity for him!

Week ending 19th May 2017

The big event this week was the Lower Basic outing to Gunjur Reptile Farm. They enjoyed a specially prepared breakfast at Sunrise then a trip by coach about 10 miles down the road to Gunjur, that runs South along the Atlantic coast of The Gambia.

 At the reptile farm they saw many snakes and other reptiles, all collected from the local surrounding forest area and kept for a time to educate the population and passing tourists. The picture shows a brave pupil from LB5 (Assan Jammeh – our LB4 teacher, Mrs Cham’s son) with a python around his neck. This is an African Rock python, a constrictor, and won’t bite children!

 Mr Saidy is also shown holding the snake for the more timid children. They are generally very scared of snakes and with good reason since a number are very poisonous in The Gambia but not very common around the populated areas, luckily. Wiki shows that there are 41 types recorded in The Gambia but only 2 cobras and a puff adder that are common and carry very strong venom. The puff adder is the most likely to bite people, apparently, since it freezes when disturbed and then strikes. Other snakes are much more timid.

 A snake, called locally a “Home Snake” but also known as a sand snake or beauty snake is not very poisonous but common in many areas and is being held by one of the guides at the reptile farm.



The children all went safely onwards to play on the beach at nearby Tanji and enjoyed a lunch that had been prepared in advance before returning home to Bakoteh. The children and staff really enjoy these kind of events.


In school the students in Skills 2 had been cooking again. This time a very spicy pizza. This was shared out by the cookery teacher, Mrs Alimatou Jammeh, as usual to willing volunteers ready to try the results of the test. Excellent.

 We have a new member of staff join us since Easter as a caretaker. Ebrima Sanyang lives in Kanifing, which is towards Banjul on the other side of Serakunda. Ebrima is very keen to help and was caught fighting the spiders webs that regularly grow in the school. Great to see his enthusiasm.

Week ending 12th May 2017

This week we have been struggling with running the Sunrise office as the electricity supplies continue to be intermittent and our solar panels are suffering with a thick coating of dust after the wind has being bringing large parts of the Sarah dessert down towards The Gambia. Again!

Solution – Send a man (Aboulie) with a brush and a bucket of water to spring clean them. Brilliant and suddenly our panels produce double the power.


The third year skills training students were completing their final practicals in cookery.

Dishes like prawn cocktail, salads and spring rolls were all laid out by proud students for a teachers to test, and then feedback.

 “Very enjoyable” said Mr Bah.


Some of the students also made lovely cakes.  The picture shows Nema Jallow (a sponsored student) standing proudly with her nearly completed sponge cake.

On Friday the whole Nursery school went to My Farm, run by African Start. This meant getting almost 90 small children and staff across to Nema Kunku to visit a charity based organisation that tries to help with education in agricultural innovation, environmental protection entrepreneurship and new innovative learning methods for basic literacy, numeracy, logic and concepts. (See )

The children, guided by Martin and Kelly and the staff, enjoyed seeing the garden with many things growing including strawberries, cabbages, nana (local mint) and tomatoes.

They saw and fed many animals including chickens, pigs, fish and rabbits.

They were introduced to new technology like a cooker powered by the sun and played on computer tablets, set into wooden frames for protection from tiny hands. They also had fun playing with lego, making models and jumping on a trampoline.

Then they sat down to enjoy a lovely meal of chicken benechin and a drink of wonjo.

A lovely day that they all really enjoyed.




Week ending 5th May 2017

This week Tony brought a plaque from Karl Jackson and had it mounted next to the library door to show that we have dedicated the Sunrise Library in memory of Karl’s late wife Kare who tragically died last year. The text says:-
 This Library, opened in February 2017, is dedicated in loving memory of Kare Jackson (22/2/1978 – 22/1/2016).
She was inspired to help children in The Gambia but left us before she could visit.
“Seashells remind us that every passing life leaves something beautiful behind.”

 Mrs Cham’s LB4 class was the first to use the library after the plaque was in place and she took the opportunity to explain to the children about how Karl has helped us build up the library in memory of his late wife, Kare. Mrs Cham is showing a photo of Kare to children.

 Children were asked, two at a time, to collect books of their choice and sit quietly to read in the Library. 



Later in the week we spotted children playing football during their PE lesson. The photo shows Alfusainey Bah (from LB4) with the ball on the way to score a goal, maybe!


 Externally sponsored students are still coming to Sunrise to meet Helen and collect fees, this time for term 3.  Katty Njie is studying at Kotu Junior Secondary School and she is aged 17 doing grade 9. (equivalent to GCSE level in UK).












Week ending 28th April 2017

This is the first week back after the Easter Holidays and everyone has been refreshed and is looking happy. Nursery break-time is busy and as energetic as ever.

Children enjoy the play equipment even though temperatures are climbing again as we move towards the rainy season.

 All around the school the children sit, mostly in groups, having their morning drink and sandwich. It is lovely to see the interactions of the smallest ones as they have fun together.





Teachers and classroom assistants also have fun with one of the teacher's latest child, called Musa. In this photo he is held by our newest classroom assistant from Nursery, Binta Jammeh. Also in the picture is Fatou Samateh (N3) who is one of GETS' sponsored children.

Musa is also pictured with his proud mother (Fatou Sanneh who teaches N3).

 In the office we continue to do a great job looking after the busy Sunrise school, now with a count of 321 students and 30 staff. Our Administrator (Georgette Coker) is pictured working with one of our most important tools, the printer/scanner. Whenever we have electricity this is in use producing documents to help teachers or scanning important records for our electronic filing system, Cloud based of course!