MEET 4 KIDS AND BUS, THE FAMILY THAT ARE NOW TRAVELING ACROSS THE COUNTRY IN THEIR MOBILE HOME
We explore Kimberly with the family who’ve converted an old bus into their home to experience the freedom of the open road.
After the harsh effects of the last year, Rheinholdt and Sonja Van Niekerk decided to do things differently and follow a totally unique dream. Together with their four children, the two teachers converted an old bus into a home which they are now using to travel around our country. Providing them with a sense of freedom they had never experienced before.
Rheinholdt van Niekerk taught Technology, PT and Computers to pupils from grades one to seven, and Sonja was a grade one teacher at the same remedial school until the birth of their first daughter. At which time she opened a pre-school at home.
“We went to Bali on holiday and landed up returning pregnant with twins. While Sonja was on maternity leave she was watching a lot of series, and came up with the idea then,” share Rheinholdt.
It’s no surprise that Rheinholdt and Sonja’s family were shocked by the news. “When we showed our family pictures they thought we were crazy! Our twins are only 3-months old and we were still adjusting to that, and now we’re buying a bus and making this huge project.”
Before jumping into a tour of the bus with all it’s modifications, the family provides us with a real-world look at life on a bus.
“It has been freeing for us in some ways, and in other ways more stressful. You’re giving up your job and there’s that loss of security even while we’ve got other incomes – like we’re renting out our house, and Sonja still has a business that she runs. But in other ways we get to spend all the time with our kids, and we can do what we want. We can wake up and say we’re not going to do anything today and decide to sit at home, or walk through the veldt, or take our bikes and go for a ride,” says Rheinholdt.
For Sonja, “What I love about living on the bus is the small space and being in each other’s faces all the time, knowing where everybody is. I also love that it’s a much smaller space to keep clean, and traveling with our house. It’s also my scariest part, but it’s nice to just pack the house and go somewhere new once a month.”
It’s clear that the children are enjoying the experience, just as much as their parents.
Rheinholdt and Sonja split schooling responsibilities for the four children. “Rheinholdt does one week with the kids and then I’ll do the little ones, and then the next week we swop around,” says the mom.
With their journey currently finding them in The Northern Cape, they can explore the rich history that places like Kimberly have to offer like the early diamond days of South Africa.
“In each town that we stop there’s definitely learning happening, there’s actually learning happening all the time. But in every town there’s always something different that we see. Whether it be cultural differences or permaculture, we always learn something new everytime we stop somewhere,” comments Sonja who then adds “What’s amazing about traveling with children is that they see all the small things that we often miss.”
Their goals include going down to the West Coast and travel all the way up to Namibia and Botswana, with dreams of potentially even getting to Europe via a ferry.
It’s not clear where their journey will lead them next, nor how long they’ll be on the road, but for now they have the freedom to choose their next adventure and we wish them well with wherever the road takes them.
Q & A WITH SONJA
What does ‘living better’ mean to you?
“Living better to us means to be together doing the things we would like to be doing, seeing new places and learning about different ways of doing things by meeting different people.”
What legacy would you like to leave behind?
“We would like to inspire people to try different ways of getting to their goals if it seems out of reach. Where there’s a will, there’s a way….sometimes you just have to change the way you’ll get there.”
What 2 valuable lessons would you like to share with South Africa?
“Never give up on your dreams. Having children does not mean your previous life needs to end, you can incorporate your children into your lifestyle and it can be very beneficial for them.”
Do you have an encouraging quote to share with us?
“Where there’s a will there’s a way…sometimes you just have to look a little harder to find the way”