My father and his three siblings were orphans. They lived in the Abraham Kriel Orphanage in Langlaagte, Johannesburg, but he was moved to Kimberley at the age of four after he contracted polio, and only saw his siblings again in adulthood… writes GILDA SWANEPOEL.

Gilda Swanepoel’s father. “He donned his college colours and hiked through the country until it was time to return to class.”

He attended Goudstad Kollege after school, but holidays proved to be a problem. He had nowhere to go.

This is where his passion for travel started. He donned his college colours and hiked through the country until it was time to return to class.

His life story had a tremendous impact on me. I often wondered about this man who was my farther… about who he may have been if he had a loving family, if he had been played with, and taken places… if he had experienced love and the world outside. (He passed away at the young age of 54.)

Thankfully times have changed, and we now talk about children’s homes. Many kids live in small family-type units, and won’t be separated from their siblings.

But still, most of these children have only seen the town they live in. How can you dream big if your world is so small?

Most children’s homes have programmes where outsiders can take a child on holiday, or for a weekend outing… but with the economy seeing family resources and budget disappear, this becomes problematic.

Also, many people don’t know about these programmes.

Thus, my Open Minds Foundation is born…

It aims to, together with my Eenblond journey, sign up holiday resorts, houses, etc. to donate free nights to families taking orphaned children on holiday, as well as to create awareness around these programmes. Any other services like meals or activities are accepted too. (See details at bottom of page.)

Email me at for more information, and please spread the word.

About Gilda Swanepoel…

gildaGilda Swanepoel started her career as a lecturer in learning development in Soshanguve, where her love for the spirit of South Africa’s people was born. Due to Affirmative Action policies coming into place (her students toyi-toyi’d for her to stay), contracts were cancelled and she went on to make a name for herself in the entertainment industry. She opened her first iconic bar in Pretoria at the young age of 23. While owning restaurants and clubs, she also worked in the music industry as PR and marketing manager for 7 years. She was marketing manager for the IMAX group. She lived in Berlin, where she trained the German Senate and Deutcshe Telekom engineers in cultural understanding.

After two tremendous robberies at her last business, Gilda gave up on the entertainment industry to focus on her passion for travel, but remains a consultant to the industry under her company Consult & Pepper. Gilda packed her trusted Hilux and spent the next 8 months on the road. She shared her journey on Facebook and Instagram as Eenblond and a Hilux. Word travelled about the lone, brave woman on the road, and invitations from lodges to come visit followed. People started chatting to her via Facebook, and her following grew fast and steadily. Apart from accommodation, Gilda funded this journey herself.

She is currently travelling to create awareness, funds and stock for her Open Minds Foundation. She aims to spend 365 days on the road without stopping or going home.

She supports a non-racist world through her Travel Teaches Tolerance message.

To date, Gilda has travelled 28,198km, visited 67 towns, over 278 days.


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