A combination Sesotho / Setswana word, it means ‘good clean health’.
I had volunteered on the train before, in Bergville; Now Trish and I joined it in Underberg. At the time it was a pet project of Jannie Ferreira, optometry professor at RAU (now the University of Johannesburg). So it was full of RAU students. We had a kombi and on the way up from Durban to act as volunteer supervisor, we repaired to the bottle store and bought champagne, thinking we’d load everyone up and drive off to where we could watch the sun set behind the Drakensberg and its foothills and quaff champers.
Well, we did the quaffing, but well after sunset, as we couldn’t stop till we’d seen the last patient. No way we were going to say, ‘Sorry, come back tomorrow’ to poor people who had come from afar.
After that we went to a farmhouse (the local vet, I believe) where we were treated to a lovely braai.
There are now two Phelophepa trains and the services it provides have increased. Long may it thrive and arrive at remote stations to provide needs and care and happiness – both to the people waiting at the sidings and to the students onboard.