Guest writer, 15-year-old Thomas Slabbert tells the touching story of his home-life in the African bush and the value of homeschooling.
Living in obscure places is an understatement. Thanks to my family’s way of living life to the fullest, I have had the amazing privilege of traveling throughout Africa. While traveling and working in countries and places like South Africa, Cullinan, Free State, Drakensberg Mountains, Lesotho, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and many more, housing can become somewhat challenging and quite interesting at times.
The first house I lived in was designed by my father. This home was not just a house; it was alive! My father had designed a living home, with a river running through the garden, grass growing from the walls, and a fire pit at which we spent many nights.
A tent was the next thing I got to call home. For two years my family and I lived in a green tent just big enough for the three of us to sleep in. Our kitchen was a cluttered separate tent, and bathrooms were a short sprint away (this did prove a challenge at times.) Waking up to the frost-covered trees that surrounded our little patch of heaven was one of my fondest memories of that home. Life in a tent is fun at times, but as you can imagine it has its tough patches too! We had no running water, which resulted in my bath being nothing but a bucket filled with cold water! Bathing in warm water was a rarity. While most kids wish for candy, I wished for a warm bath.
A long driveway led to an old water bottling facility overlooking a massive dam on the outskirts of Bronkhorstspruit. We had moved here while my Dad was building and running a fishing resort, literally in our hundred hector back garden. This water bottling facility was the only building around at that time. We had no choice and had to make this work, but with a few touch-ups that became my next home. Because it was never intended to be a house there were a few things we had to do that were out of the norm, some of them being, we had to sleep with our mattresses on the floor. And there were pipes hanging from the ceiling that if not minded would give you a nasty headache! The bright side of this home was we never ran out of water!
I have relocated thirty times in my life, averaging about two moves a year. Whether it is moving from county to county or even to the neighbouring village on the other side of a mountain, my family has always made the best of things.
Also at each new location a new skill or job has to be learned in order to survive. I have not just learned the basics like, fishing, hunting, and surviving out in the wild with nothing but a knife and your thoughts; but I have also learned the extreme skills; how to man heavy duty machinery, drive twenty feet boats in deadly conditions, and fight off raging fires threatening to burn down entire homesteads.
This has been my life since the very beginning, I know no other, and quite honestly I don’t want to. Because of the life I have led, many doors have been opened, giving me a chance to experience life to its fullest. This way of living has not hindered me in anyway, in fact it has made me the person I am today. All thanks has to go to my parents for weathering out the storms with me and letting me live and experience things with an open heart and mind. In none of these living situations were my family homeless or alone. What we did was a way of life, it was all a choice, and these choices have brought my family together and shown us that there is strength in unity. I don’t intend to stop travelling, for I know that every road leads to somewhere, where that is, I will have to find out when I get there.