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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 compound.

The next practice will be a surprise one!




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 sponsors.

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' money brings!


We’ve now 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 GETS.


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 November

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 his hotel!
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 November

Our friends and supporters Tom and Mary Ikin were welcomed to Sunrise this week - here they're eating spring rolls prepared by our skills students!

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 November

We 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.

The 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 Mariamma


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 leave.


Week ending 3rd November

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 were available.

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 Singhateh

Lower Basic 6 with Mr Jaiteh


Nursery 1 with Mbacho  

 Nursery 2 with Aunty Sally and Mama

 Nursery 3 with Fatou Sanneh and Binta

Skills Training 1 with Fatou Bojang

Skills Training 2 with Mr Bah and Fatou Nyassi

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, Kaddyjatou! 

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 minimum 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 his classroom!


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 etc.

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 a sandal.

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 their work.


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 September

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 places.

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 their fist! 

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 contact us
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