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Abraham Kriel Children’s Home and the Mexican Devil plant

By Richard Malan

We set out early on a winter morning (well early for us anyway 06h00) after an invitation from Karen and the Magaliesburg Mountaineering club to help in eradicating the world or Dome pools of the Devil plant.

An enthusiastic 11 kids, Tilly and myself got into the Kombi, after getting clear route directions from our hosts and not wanting to listen to Tilly I took us on the scenic route and a one hour trip to the meeting place took two hours. When we arrived at the meeting place it was cold and misty (ag no what did Tilly get us into) the kids were ready and eager to start, when we informed them it will take another hour or so, Karen was full of energy chatting away with the kids like long lost buddy’s.

We met some of the expedition members there - Otti and her hubby from Magaliesburg mountain club and Karen and her two friends and of we went in the Mooi nooi direction, I was telling the kids it seems like we are missing the mountains when all of a sudden left on this sand road right again and left again and Bobs your aunty there was the stopping place with directions to the Dome pools. Otti was out with the do and don’ts in the bush, what to do with toilet paper, some of the kids where stunned (no toilets just the bush, they must be joking) only Karen had all the back packs ready with the much needed padkos (popcorn and juice). There the expedition started, over the farmers’ fence and into the bush we go.

The kidz were fascinated by Stefaan’s knowledge about the plants and insects. Otti’s Hubby knows all about the plants trees and the bush it was quite awesome to hear the kids quiz him on the trail about this plant that one and the other. About 1 hour later we stopped at our first waterhole with the purest clearest drinking water ever(hoping no one further up was using the stream) Hannes had his first slip and went into the water backside first. There we were introduced to the Mexican Devil plant, and given a crash course into the sticky stem type of leaves and not to confuse it with the local type. Once we reached the resting point we were dealt into three groups made our different ways and started the work, thorns in fingers wet shoes and sweat was the order of the day, kids stripped down to undies for the river crossing to get them Devil plant on the other side. Braam going down a slide

Meeting for lunch was quite a story as half of the group was still up stream making there way down, the rest down stream were enjoying the water falls and pools to swim in (you can not keep a kid out of the water even if it is that cold), it seems the boys upstream was eager to get down stream and left the girls and the others in the group behind to catch up on the swimming, sliding down the natural slides was just as much fun as Sipho demonstrated but if you take the wrong line, like Braam it could be painful on the behind.

Michael just watched and wondered should he or not. The girls could not swim as they did not bring costumes and had to sit and watch (ag shame As always every good time comes to and end and we had to leave whilst the rest were staying over for the week end, after long goodbyes and some sad hearts we bid our host farewell even if we wanted to stay, on the way home all was just talking of the good time they had Christo and Sipho can’t wait to do it again especially if it is in Drakensberg area, then the ZZZZZ fell over the Kombi and we had a quite trip back Samantha, Linda and Gerda on top of the world Greetings and GOD’S blessings over all until we meet again – Richard Malan

Some of my thoughts and feelings – Noeksie aka Karen

I decided to join the three girls, Samantha, Linda and Gerda for the Saturday deweeding session. Samantha was absolutely fascinated by the bugs and plants and was hanging on Stefaan’s lips. As soon as she learned something she would run back to us to give us a lecture. When she scrambled up a rock shouting “I’m on top of the world” I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry. It takes so little to make these kidz happy. Linda was very quiet the whole time and when I mentioned it, Gerda said “don’t worry, she’s enjoying it in her own quiet way”.

I walked back to the car park with them and felt rather sad when they left – especially since they were all keen to spend the night under the stars.Cois feeling where the weeds are before deweeding The next morning Cois and Andre pretended to sleep when I got up for a S.O.A.P moment. Thank goodness – because in my attempt to get to the top in the dark I got lost in the thorn bushes and since they don’t share my sentiment about sunrises, they probably would have killed me. After my 3 hour bundu-bashing exploration it was time to tackle the weeds in the streams.

Andre and myself took turns telling Cois where to “feel” for weed and after some probing the weeds would come flying past our heads. After several hours and just as many encounters with thorn bushes I was ready to retire but the blind guy was still feeling strong and war was declared on the thorn bushes. At this stage Cois was walking in front waving his stick at the “wag-‘n bietjies” while I was cowering behind him. Around 16h00 the day-group came marching past us and inspired by the thought of an ice cold lager waiting we joined them and raced back first to the car-park and then to the Upper Deck in Harties.

A Big Thank You to

  • The MCSA – Magaliesberg for the opportunity you gave the kidz to enjoy the mountains
  • Otti and Stefan Neser - for the love and knowledge you shared with the kidz – it was so special
  • My friends – for always being there when I need help. Thank goodness you pretended you were sleeping
  • Cois – for being unstoppable and the big protector. You really saved me from those “wag-‘n bietjies”.

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