Week ending 22nd December
Lower Basic G5 have been learning about the
human respiratory system in their class. Mr Saidy took the
advantage of utilising some balloons brought make by a UK
visitor to ask the children to make a scientific model of a
human lung. He firstly demonstrated his version to them.
The photos show the
finished lung and then one of his students, Alfusainey Bah (aged
11) blowing up the balloon to simulate the effect on the
diaphragm whilst the taller boy on the left, Sheik Gassama
explains everything. All the class produced great models which
were then tested.
In the Nursery break
time it was interesting to hear the children dancing in a circle
and singing “Ring a ring o’ roses” in Wolof! The words were
directly translated and the tune faithful to the English version
but I doubt that they knew what it meant. They faithfully fell
down – dead at the end of the rhyme.
At the end of every
term there is traditionally school wide activities for the older
children and students. This time the LB and Skills Training
schools all brought chairs to the hall to take part in a quiz.
There was music too;
clapping and singing, of course. The Skills Training students
had also been meeting in small groups to practice drama sessions
to entertain the assembly in the Hall.
The school now closes
until early January 2018. This allows us access to the
classrooms to do much needed maintenance, beginning by repairs
in Skills and Lower Basic schools, followed by classroom
painting and then repainting the outside of the whole school.
Week ending 15th December
This week we say good bye to Steve and
Chris Humphries who have been helping us in the last couple of
months. Chris has done many things including helping in the
Library with our weaker readers. ,
Steve is shown at the
“Ta-Da” moment. We are delighted that he’s managed to resurrect
11 chairs that have been sitting as a set of jig-saw pieces,
with metal legs and backs broken. Steve worked with our local
welder man to put things back together again.
Later we gave Steve
and Chris some old Lower Basic Grade 1 and 2 text books from
Sunrise which have been replaced. These have done 4/5 years in
school and although these were now far from complete, Steve took
them off to a poor village Lower Basic school that they also
help support at Youna. The Head there was really grateful for
the gift since his school has so little help.
Here is Steve with some of the
students from Youna school.
Towards the end of the week we had
another fire practice. The first this year and announced in
advance to allow new Staff, students and children a chance for
training first. The pictures show great organisation and
checking by our teachers.
The process took only
5 minutes to get 400 staff and youngsters outside in the school
The next practice will be a
Week ending 8th December
Last week was busy as usual and it has been
hot in the day but getting colder at night (less than 20 deg C
at times). We have had many visitors and some photos below
missed appearing in the blog earlier.
Barbara Young came
with husband Barry (a Trustee) to see everyone at Sunrise,
including the students that they support. The picture shows
Barbara presenting a gift to Mariama Badjie (Sk3), whom she
Also looking back to
November we were delighted to have Tony Bound and Erica Wren
working mostly in the Skills Training area. They are pictured on
the last day of their 4 weeks with us, having being presented
with a certificate of appreciation by Mr Cham and Mr Bah in
front of one of the skills classes.
Erica and Tony took
many training sessions, some quite short and others longer, with
both students and teachers. Here Erica is pictured explaining
where the funds to help at Sunrise come from and how we strive
to get most of the cash into The Gambia, with as few overheads
as possible(less than 5p in each £1) . Erica was of course
asking them to take care of all the things that our supporters'
formalised arrangements with Bubacarr Jallow to have him service
our sewing machines on Tuesday and Thursdays. His skills in this
area are invaluable to keep things going and he also shows the
students tips on “all things tailoring”.
Every day we continue
to feed the children with breakfast and a drink. Visitors who
come to Sunrise are often surprised to see how teachers manage
to control the small children and keep them quiet whilst waiting
for food in their break-time. The picture shows just how they
queue patiently each day. Amazing!
It’s always great to
see the children letting off steam in the playground. This
continues throughout the year regardless of the heat of the sun.
Great to contrast the temperatures here where the tourists seek
the shade (or even air conditioning), whilst back in Europe
things seem to have gone to the other extreme - there it is now
cold and snowing!
Week ending 1st December
Many people in the Gambia are very
enthusiastic about football, both watching and playing. So it
was great news when Tony heard that many complete football
strips were being donated to Sunrise by Philip Wood (pictured).
Philip has 2 daughters (Emily and Evie), who play for a team in
Barnsley (UK) and their team donate their old kits every 3 years
to a worthy cause when it is renewed. This time it would be to
Nick and Sheila
(former Chairperson of GETS) Plaister brought the football
strips and also footballs to Sunrise, from UK. They are pictured
helping Mrs Cham to sort out the football kits in the office,
given to GETS by their friend Philip Wood.
Later we arranged for
2 teams to have a brief competition on the Sports Floor at
Sunrise after posing (with Nick, Mr Cham and Mr Saidy) in the
Hall in the immaculate football kit.
We plan to form a team
to compete in local competitions against other schools but there
is enough kit to clothe some of the children for PE too. We are
really grateful to Philip for his generous donation, to Emily
and Evie for acquiring it and of course to Nick and Sheila for
bringing it to us.
Elsewhere in Sunrise
we have been having trouble with cheap sewing needles breaking
the cotton on the sewing machines. The better quality needles
aren’t perfect either but are helping to improve machine
reliability. We have bought back all the cheap needles (since
students provide their own) and asked them to buy the more
expensive ones. This problem is ongoing!
Tony has been
photographing some of Skills Training Year 3 students to make
them new ID badges. This allows them to identify themselves
during work placements as a student of the Sunrise Centre.
Matching faces to names and pictures is a challenge at times so
one of the students usually produces a list of names that match
the photo order. This time it was Yaya Baldeh who has neat
writing and he uses the back of Nyina Sanyang, who seemed quite
happy to be used as a desk.
In the Lower Basic,
maths classes are often a challenge in The Gambia but at Sunrise
we start this with lots of support early on in Lower Basic 1
(aged 6-7) Mr Williams has been working with his class to
help them with structured learning.
Week ending 24th
This week was very busy again with lots of visitors again. More
flights are coming to Gambia I think which should bring much
needed cash to a poor country.
At Sunrise we try and help visitors meet up with the children
that many help through sponsorship. Our “old” friends, Cathy and
Karl Ward met up with Omar Njie (N3), Jama Ceesay (Sk 3).
They brought gifts for
another student whom they have sponsored for several years now,
Mariama Singhateh, in LB4. We were also delighted to receive
more pens, books for our library and other games and resources
in a huge suitcase from the Ward’s. Thank you so much.
We were pleased to
have a visit to Sunrise from Alison Tweed (CEO - Book Aid
International). Alison had been contacted by Erica Wren on
behalf of GETS to see if her organisation could help in our
attempts to set up a school library. The library (dedicated in
memory of Kare Jackson) is gathering momentum and users, because
of the enthusiasm and skills of our librarian, Sainabou Sambou
and others who helped set it up.
Alison said - ‘I was
so impressed by your lovely school and the wonderful library
that is there for the pupils. The space looks so enticing and I
can tell the pupils use it because the books are well-thumbed,
as they should be! It would be wonderful to see more schools in
The Gambia having such an excellent resource.’
We also had a visit
from Rosie Holder (Tony’s sister) and her friend, Angela Thomas.
They have been coming to the Gambia and helping GETS from many
years, at one time writing our Newsletter. After a tour, they
posed with Mr Cham (Education Director).
We even had time for a
bit of fun, Susan Jarju (our cook) lost her vital kitchen keys.
One of our volunteers (Steve Humphries) had taken them back to
Susan, together with our own Head of Sunrise Bureau of
investigation or SBI (Tony Bound) are seen here presenting Steve
with a stern written warning letter that also gives dreadful
threats including a requirement “. . . . to paint the whole
site with a five-bristle brush ” if this ever happens again. All
conjured up by Susan!
Chris Humphries has
been knitting pencil cases over her time in the UK and bringing
them to Sunrise to use as prizes for achievement. Not quite sure
if the children would take to using these, Chris was delighted
to see one of Nursery 3 children, Muhammed Ceesay carefully
putting his pencils inside his case the following week. He is
pictured here with the book that he was also awarded.
We’ve also been
improving the school by adding another 6-wheel lorry load of
oyster shells to the front entrance way. This reduces mud in the
school in the rains. Some of the older boys were rewarded with
breakfast, for their labours in spreading out the shells. They
look a different colour from the first load but the sun and
rains will quickly change this.
Week ending 17th
Our friends and
supporters Tom and Mary Ikin were welcomed to Sunrise this week
- here they're eating spring rolls prepared by our skills
We were also delighted
that they persuaded one of their family to help one of our
students (Zaineb Jammeh) to continue her education.
Tony Bound and Erica
Wren, who are always working with our Skills Training students,
when they can, have been staying with Tom and Mary and coming to
Sunrise every day. Tony and Erica have both taken classes to
help teachers in particular areas.
Tony is pictured here
teaching about the human body by explaining about the basics of
survival. He said “We can live without air for about 3 minutes,
without water for about 3 days and without food for about 3
weeks”, according to accepted wisdom.
Tony is also shown
here with some the Skills 3 students who had just completed a
practical lesson making spring rolls. He had to persuade them
against putting lashings of spices. A Gambian habit!
Tony Bound also
covered the Mufti Day celebrations as the schools photographer.
He took some wonderful pictures on the Friday when the children
came into school wearing their local tribal costumes. They paid
a small fee (D 5) towards school funds and the best students in
each category were given certificates and a small prize.
Steve and Chris
Humphries are back at Sunrise! Chris has been figuring out how
to teach the complex art of the UK style of knit and pearl
stitch so she could teach Fatou Nyassi (Skills Training
Classroom Assistant) how this should be done. Gambians tend to
only use knit stitch apparently. Chris has also been helping us
and our Librarian with listening to students reading. She was
impressed to hear children just out of Nursery with very good
reading skills. This is excellent news, when English isn’t a
first language in many homes.
Meanwhile Steve has
been repairing chairs and tables again. The plastic chairs are
fixed to metal legs by screws that often become loose and then
lost as chairs are moved around the school.
Week ending 10th
had our first set of Tourists (since the season had formally
opened this week). Eleonore and Roy from Holland are pictured
presenting pens to Alkali Cham. Neither have visited Gambia
previously but Erica Wren came across them in Senegambia and
invited them along.
We also had our mums
and their babies come to see us and pose for pictures.
Mr Saidy (LB5
teacher). his wife, Amie and baby Mariamma
Fatoumatta Darboe (teacher of LB2) and baby Bintou.
babies were both asleep during the visit and seemed very
content. Our visitors also took turns with holding Bintou!
Also visiting were Jade and Franki
from UK. Jade’s partner, an ex-student of ours, Modou Fatty,
suggested the visit.
Jade and Franki with
Jade and Franki brought balloons for the
children and their teachers showed them how to make rockets!
Later Tony visited N3 to
see Binta Jammeh managing the class with a singing DVD playing
for the children called “A Day Full of Surprises”.
Binta is one our recent
appointments as a full time classroom assistant, after helping
us last year with cover when the Nursery teachers maternity
Week ending 3rd
Tony took pictures of
each of the classes in the school, making up near 400 children
and young people. The teachers all joined their classes, if they
Lower Basic 1 with Mr
Williams and Penda
Lower Basic 2 with Sulayman
Lower Basic 3 with Mr Beyai
Lower Basic 4 with Mrs Cham
Lower Basic 5 with Mr Saidy and Fatamata
Lower Basic 6 with Mr Jaiteh
Nursery 1 with Mbacho
Nursery 2 with Aunty Sally and
Nursery 3 with Fatou Sanneh and
Skills Training 1 with Fatou Bojang
Skills Training 2 with Mr Bah and Fatou
Skills Training 3 with Mr Darboe
Week ending 27th October
In this Grade 4 maths class Kaddyjatou
Ceesay had her hand up to be the first to finish the work set so
Fatou Cham came round to mark it - all correct - well done,
In Nursery 1 Kaddy Jawara
was introducing the idea of one to one correspondence when
counting numbers up to four. She is helping Mariama touch each
object as she says the number. The class can all rattle off the
numbers -1,2,3,4 - but linking each number to an object -
this is a great step forward in their understanding of numbers.
In Nursery 2 they are also
working on one to one correspondence, but now using numbers up
to ten, touching each bottle top counter as they say the number.
Practising waitressing skills in the bar
and restaurant class in the hall
Our cookery teacher,
Alimatou, has recently been taking a 'Cookery and Pastry' course
at The Gambia Hotel School so is always looking for new ideas
for different cakes that her students could make. This
week they tried a recipe for coconut tarts.
Taking turns at whisking
- no electrical mixers here!
Making them look
attractive - then into the oven they go.
Week ending 20th October
This week we received the results of the
National Assessment Test taken by our Grade 3 in June this year.
National Assessment Tests are taken throughout Lower Basic
schools in The Gambia every year, the grade tested alternating
yearly between Grade 3 and Grade 5. The Ministry of Education's
target is that 20% of both boys and girls achieve a
mark of 80% or above while 80% of both sexes achieve a pass rate
of 40% or above. As you may guess from the graph showing the results
that has to be displayed on school notice boards, we were
pleased with our results.
The electricity supply in The Gambia is
very unreliable, tourists are used to everything suddenly going
black when they are eating their evening meal in a restaurant
and know they just have to sit and wait until someone goes to
switch on the hotel/restaurant generator. Mains power can be off
for many hours and In a busy school like Sunrise, power and
internet is essential. We have had a small solar system for some
time now but have recently added to and improved it because of
the long days without mains power. This is the new inverter in
the office with two large batteries under the table below it.
Yassin Jasseh, one of our Lower Basic
classroom assistants, has gained a place at Gambia College on
their Primary Teaching Certificate course. Previously this
course has been held over three years during school holidays,
but is now a full time course taking place over two years. This
has meant that we had to appoint a temporary assistant to take
her place whist she is away at college. Penda Jallow, below, has
been appointed to cover Yassin's absence. Penda graduated from
our Skills Training this July and won the prize for the best
overall student of that year.
Penda in Grade 4 classroom, helping one
of the boys
with his maths.
An action shot of Lower Basic 2 girls
during a PE lesson - with Mr Darboe's motorbike parked outside
A daily visitor is the breadman,
delivering to the kitchen for Susan to prepare breakfast for
students and staff at break time. Every time we come to Gambia we
see more motorbikes!
A visitor this week was Bakary Saidy's wife with her new baby girl. Bakary is our Grade
5 teacher, just returned from paternity leave, ready to prepare
his class for their NAT exams next June.
Mr Darboe's skills class have been
finding a use for all the bits of paper from the paper shredder
in the office.
When thoroughly dry they
will paint and decorate their finished items.
Now the new school year has started school
fees are due, more parents are finding it hard to pay the fees
but want their child to stay at Sunrise so ask for sponsorship.
Zaineb's parents have not been able to pay the term 1 fees,
which includes two uniforms, so although she is now in Lower
Basic 1, she is still wearing her last term's yellow nursery
uniform, whilst all the rest of her class are in the red Lower
Basic uniform. There are now nine of our students on the
Students asking for Sponsors
page of our website - click here
to see them. Can you or a friend help any of them?
Week ending 13th October
This week Mr Cham asked his brother's wife
to come in to Sunrise and show our skills students some of the
things she had made from recycling different material Below you
can see the necklace, ring and bag made from recycled metal foil
and silver paper, also a board displaying various insects made
from pins, nutshells and thread.
Below she is showing them
her bracelet, made from the ring pulls of cans of drinks
Other visitors this week were Liesbeth
and Adam from Holland. They aked their tourist taxi driver to
take them to visit a local nursery school and ended up at
Sunrise, where they really enjoyed seeing the children.
This week the skills
cleared all the waist high vegetation growing in our garden
area. In the past students have successfully grown many
vegetables and salad plants which have been used in the school
kitchens. When, unfortunately, the garden was overrun by
termites, activities in the garden ceased. Last weekend, the
compound was sprayed to get rid of these pests, who had also
managed to get into the roof of Mr Bah's classroom! There is a
lot of hard work ahead, if the garden is to flourish again.
To be burnt - in case
there's any lurking termites!
Skills 3 were doing one of their
practical cookery sessions, using the bantaba and the area
around it for cooking outside on the local charcoal stoves.
Week ending 6th October
This week Skills 3 have had practical
assessments on work using beads. Below you can see one using
beads to make a decoration on a garment she has sewn whilst
another is putting bead decoration onto a flip flop sole to make
These two students are using tiny beads
to make a framed representation of the Sunrise badge, I think
this will be quite a long task!
You can see the different ways they used
beads imaginatively to create their project for this assessment,
displayed on a table in their classroom by the first to finish
Mr Darboe has just bought some wooden
stamps for his classes to use when making batik patterns - we
look forward to seeing some interesting results!
As our present Grade 6, most of whom
started with us in Nursery 1, progressed through the Lower Basic
school they started a new grade using the next spare classroom
available. As this term they have now reached Grade 6 we have
all six grades in our Lower Basic school, so no longer have a
spare classroom. A spare classroom had always been used by Paul
Badjan, for teaching the small number of Christian children in
each class, whilst the Islamic teacher taught the rest of the
class in their own classroom. Paul's new teaching area is
the old office, now with shelves for storing sewing material
etc. We cannot make this area all dusty with a chalk board, so a
whiteboard has been purchased and will be hung on the wall
opposite the shelves.
Our nursery children are looking smart in
their new uniform as they line up after their breakfast break.
All the Skills and Lower
Basic classes are now enjoying using the library every week.
They are timetabled to come in small groups and Sainabou, our
library assistant, hears them read, helping any who find reading
difficult. Skills 2 are using the library in this photo.
This week Ruth had to go back to the UK
after spending three weeks helping at Sunrise. She has been a
great help in the office with all the administration, printing
and sorting out computer problems, then also helping with
hearing children read when school started. Thank you, Ruth!
Week ending 29th
The end of the first
week of the new academic year! Parents who came to Sunrise
this week wanting to register their child, had to be told that
they had left it too late, there were no more places available
and we already had a waiting list for lower basic and nursery
New school year, new
uniform. The nursery now have yellow check material, the boys
brown trousers are the same as before.
The Lower Basic now have a small red check
The skills uniform remains the same - they
learn to make the tie and die top and the skirt or trousers
during their lessons here.
The class below are our new Skills intake this year - they look
happy to be at Sunrise!
We have a new teacher starting with us this year,
Mr Williams. He is teaching Lower Basic Grade 1 and here he is
below after school, sharpening pencils ready for the next day.
Our new nursery children
have settled down well and certainly seem to be enjoying school!
These children are only
three so are learning through play,though this week they have
also been learning to recognise red, blue and yellow and to make
the ssss sound of a snake when then see the letter 's'
Some more N1 children busy
matching the shapes to the holes in these wooden boards, here
helped by Mbacho, our N1 teaching assistant. If it doesn't fit
first time some of them try to hammer then into the hole with
AGM 2nd September 2017
This year our AGM was held in Driffield,
our thanks go to Angela Longoni-Sarr for arranging the venue,
complete with screen and projector to enable us to illustrate
the progress of the charity throughout the past year.
Our AGMs are held in different places every year to enable
supporters in different areas to meet the main officials and
supporters of the charity. If you would like the AGM to be in
your area next year please
We always provide a buffet lunch before the meeting as we know
some people travel many miles to attend and this year Sue took a
photo of some of the food waiting for hungry travellers.
At this AGM we were very happy to welcome a new trustee for GETS
- Pat Taylor, who together with her husband, have been visiting
Sunrise since 2014 and sponsor two children there. You can read
more about Pat here