The Experience of a Lifetime
On Saturday 16th February, ten Bishop Heber sociology a level students and three staff set off for a week visiting the Gambia in Africa. The trip was planned by Sociology teacher Maxine Beech, who wanted to give the students a chance to compare British and African culture, and apply the theory to real life.
The Heber students trekked through national parks, were welcomed to a traditional village by the chief and taught how to dance by the women, visited Serrekunda – the largest market in Gambia, enjoyed a river trip and fishing for frog fish, learnt batik, tie and dye and Gambian cooking, and were invited to spend time in family compounds.
The focus of the trip was to spend time in the Sunrise centre, a school for both 4-8 year olds and 15-25 years old skills students. The Heber students took part in, and sometimes led, lessons in the school, and were treated to a cultural show by the Gambian teachers and students. They also spent a morning designing and making their own tie and dye fabric with the skills students, which they brought back to England with them. Friday was the annual 'Ebbeh day' at Sunrise; a community open day at the school with lots of local foods and music. Both Gambian and British students had a wonderful day, with the Heber students learning to dance 'Mankinda style' – a tribal dance – and the Gambian students learning to dance 'Gangnam style'!
The Sunrise centre is run by the Gambia Education and Teaching Support (GETS) charity. Sunrise, with the help of UK donations, provides good quality education for Gambian children and young people at a very low fee that most parents can afford. Those who cannot afford the fees are found sponsors, who pay £10 a month. Two of the Heber students, Lucy Hobson and Rachel Jones, and teacher Maxine Beech sponsor students at the centre, and were delighted to meet their sponsored students face to face. Currently four young children are waiting for sponsors for their education. The school also has a 'sponsor a teacher' scheme, which encourages people to donate £5 a month to sponsor a teacher and their class providing valuable funds for salaries and resources. Only Gambian staff are paid wages, including administration, so the money goes directly into helping the community.
For more information about supporting or visiting the Sunrise centre you can visit their website www.getsuk.org, or email
. For more information about Bishop Heber school visit www.bishopheber.cheshire.sch.uk.