Nieu Bethesda

The village of Nieu Bethesda is set in the fertile valley of the Sneeuberg Mountains.
Originally founded in 1878 as a Dutch settlement .. we found it to be utterly charming.
The storm had passed, leaving behind a beautiful rainbow ...

... and superb scenery, with the greenery of the foliage, enhanced by the refreshing rain,
contrasting against the bright whiteness of the rows of new bungalows.

Nieu Bethesda's most famous attraction is the Owl House .. the home of the late and not a little eccentric, artist .. Helen Martins. Striving to bring light and colour into her life, she filled her house with vibrantly coloured creations in crushed glass and her garden ( known as
The Camel Yard ) with bizarre concrete statues .. the like of which few have ever seen before and which bring thousands of visitors to Nieu Bethesda every year.

Local flowers

We heard that some teachers and ladies of the village had just started a village self-help project by opening a restaurant in the local school. Using one of the classrooms and the school kitchen to provide evening meals for tourists and visitors to generate extra funds for the school and the village. Wanting something to eat, we walked up to the school but were disappointed to find it apparently deserted. Suddenly a smiling face appeared and invited us into a classroom which had been neatly laid out with tables and chairs to form a mini-restaurant. We felt highly honoured that the entire staff insisted on devoting themselves to providing us .. their only visitors .. with a very tasty meal.
Looking after us as though we were royalty !

Whilst waiting for the food to be cooked, they explained the aims of their project and said that as well as boosting school funds, they were trying to help a lot of the local villagers. The South African government had evidently provided new accommodation for the poorest black residents of Nieu Bethesda .. similar to other neat and tidy-looking rows of white bungalows with shiny new tin roofs, which we had seen elsewhere in South African towns. But there was now so much widespread unemployment amongst the residents that many of those who had moved in, simply could no longer afford the rent to stay in their houses.

You will see from the photo below, that the posters on the walls are at junior schoolchild height .. so were the tables and chairs .. which made eating all the more 'special' !

In an area where education and employment opportunities were almost non-existent ..
we saw a modern, well-equipped school and met an enthusiastic group of ladies doing their very best to help themselves and their community.

Recent news out of Nieu Bethesda shows that their initiative must have been successful
as an Arts Centre in combination with the school and its activities, is flourishing.
Bravo ladies .. many congratulations !!