In May 2010, StarBright Learning Exchange sent their first exchange person to Cape Town, South Africa for 3 months as a pilot project. The idea behind the exchange was originally for Early Childhood Teachers to support the Etafeni Day Care Centre Trust (EDCCT) through working in their Pre-School at the Vrygrond Community Centre. This first exchange envisaged developing an ongoing relationship where teachers from Australia would visit South Africa for 3 months and vice versa, which would strengthen relationships and provide support to vulnerable communities.
Rachel Riley (nee Giansiracusa) arrived at the Vrygrond Community Centre to find that the preschool was not yet completed therefore it was impossible to spend the 3 months working with children in that capacity. Contact was made with Vicky Kumm, Director of True North, and Rachel became involved with the work she was doing with three crèches and their teaching staff.
At the time Vicky was offering support to the crèches by sourcing equipment and funding as well as specific training for program development. Rachel became involved in the program development section and as a trained Early Childhood Teacher helped to provide insight and ideas to the teachers involved. She attended their fortnightly meetings and spent time within each centre to support the implementation of the program plans developed at the meetings. Rachel also spent time working at the community centre, getting to know people working in the income generation program and the kitchen garden.
The experience gave her an insight into the Vrygrond Community and the people whose reality it is. She connected with many people on a personal and professional level and made links that enabled StarBright to continue their efforts to support Early Childhood Programs in the area.