Bergvliet boy on a mission to help others

Devin Carelse with some of the painted stones he and his mother and grandfather hid in the parking lot at Constantiaberg Mediclinic.

Nine-year-old Devin Carelse, of Bergvliet, wants to change people’s lives and save nature, and he has started with a clean-up project, roping in his mother and grandfather.

Once a month, they take to the streets to clean up the area. Now Devin is challenging the neighbourhood and other parents to do the same.

“We need to rescue our streets and save the trees and flowers. Without trees, we will not have clean oxygen to breathe,” says Devin. “And if it’s windy, the rubbish goes into the drains, then the sea, into the animals that live there. The people and the animals will get sick.”

Take-away packaging, plastic forks, chip packets, masks and lots of plastic are among the litter he finds.

Devin is epileptic, and he is in Grade 4 at Vista Nova special-needs school in Rondebosch. Many of the children at the school come from disadvantaged homes, and Devin and his mother, Nazleen, paint stones and make bookmarks, which they have sold, along with small cacti and second-hand books, at various markets – including the Piggy Bank Market at the Rondebosch Park Craft Market and the Under Trees Market at False Bay Rugby Club – to raise money for the school.

On Saturday, Devin, his grandfather, Joseph, 82, and Nazleen hid the painted stones for people to find in the car park at Constantiaberg Mediclinic, where Nazleen works in the accounts department. She says the gesture was meant to pass on love and bring a little cheer into the lives of staff.

“So many people are dying weekly,” she says. “Many patients don’t know if they will go home, they can’t have visitors and only see nurses. Many are on ventilators. What can we do for them? The third wave has hit the hospital hard, but we receive lots of good feedback from family members who have lost someone. The staff are so compassionate. When you choose this profession, you have to make sure your heart is in it.”

The Bulletin asked Vista Nova principal Ricardo Ward for comment about Devin and the school’s fund-raising needs, but he referred us to the Western Cape Education Department. The school has a friends group that hosts fund-raising sports events and auctions off toys and trinkets. Contact them at

To help with clean-ups, contact Nazleen Carelse during the day at 021 799 2682, or on WhatsApp at 072 314 3991 or email

Hospital reception administrator Edward Arnold helped Devin place the painted stones at the entrance.
Joseph, Nazleen and Devin Carelse with the bookmarks they make to raise funds.
Devin Carelse started a clean-up project roping in his mother, Nazleen Carelse, and his grandfather, Joseph Carelse, 82.