Full steam ahead for healthcare providing ‘trains of hope’
The Phelophepa train draws a crowd wherever it goes. The sound of the lumbering 19-car clinic-on-rails signals the arrival of badly needed free healthcare for thousands of South Africans as it tours the country.
“When you arrive, people are always ready, there will be kids performing,” said train manager Anna Mokwena, a nurse. At a stop this week in Pienaarsrivier, Limpopo, dozens of elderly patients alongside women clutching children flocked to take advantage of the service.
“I’ve saved a lot of money. We arrived at 05:00 to beat the queue. We are a group of grannies who organised ourselves to come here.” The train clinic will spend a fortnight alongside Pienaarsrivier’s neat red-brick station, 55km north of Pretoria, before travelling 500km east to Ladysmith.
It will provide access to general medicine, dentistry, psychology services, a fully stocked pharmacy and an eye clinic. Final-year medical students at universities across South Africa help up to 400 patients a day.