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​Displaced people in the City of Johannesburg have been treated to a special ​day of hot meals and donated clothes as part of Chow4Change programme.

Member of the Mayoral Committee for Health and Social Development Cllr Mpho Phalatse joined hundreds of displaced who converged on the Kotze Street overnight shelter to be part of the City’s initiative to give them dignity and assist them to find solutions to their daily struggles.

The objectives behind Chow4Change programme are to:
- To link displaced people to services;
- To restore dignity of displaced people by giving them a restaurant experience;
- To create awareness about the plight of the displaced persons;
- Social inclusion or integration of displaced people to deal away with stigma by changing society perceptions about displaced people, and 
- Encourage community participation and volunteerism.

Speaking during the event MMC Phalatse, said it was important to link programmes of the City to all especially the destitute and those whose voices are not heard.

“Through this programme we are able to directly assist those in our communities and be able to respond to their needs. For a day they are able to get a hot meal, get clothes that have been donated by our social partners and have their dignity restored again.

“It is important that we support such initiatives and remember those that are not fortunate amongst us,” said MMC Phalatse as she shared a table with some of the destitute visitors who some stay at the centre.

Alen Grobbler, Migrant Displaced and Children Services Director at the City of Johannesburg, said the Kotze centre was a vital service that has over the years helped some of the displaced regain their lives and join the community as equals.

“In this centre we provide shelter, food, and dignity and above all hope that all is not lost. We have over the years assisted a number of individuals who for different reasons found themselves out in the street.  Today some of them have gone back to their families while others have found employment,” said Grobbler.

A man who only identified himself as Jabu and has been sleeping out in the cold for the past two years said he recently moved to Kotze overnight shelter after a friend told him that he will get help.

“I am grateful for the help that I continue to get and I have seen changes in how I look at my life and myself,” he said while he “shopped” for second-hand clothes that were distributed and was happy to get a few trousers and shirts.

As the music pumped on the speakers, the dining hall was full of smiles and joy.