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Dressing Cinderellas for the ball

Macassar is home to young fairy godmother who tapped into her own resources to make the matric farewell of two local girls a memorable occasion.

A request from a Grade 12 girl from Belhar to borrow the gown she wore to her dance in 2014, got Shaneen Vlaandorp thinking about girls from her own neighbourhood who may find themselves in similar situations. “She couldn’t afford to have a dress made or to buy one,” the 21-year-old recalled. “That got me wondering about matriculants in my area and how many of them may be in the same situation. I immediately drafted the concept and reached out to businesses and my alma mater, Zandvliet High School.”

She conceived the idea, which she refers to as The Fairy Godmother Project, in June and set out to select a learner to be transformed into princesses on their special night, all the while staying abreast of her studies in psychology at Stellenbosch University.

“Although it was a bit late in the year, I was determined to see it through,” she said, adding that she wanted to give the girls the same matric dance experience as her own.

“I remember being quite excited about my matric dance – planning a hairstyle, make-up and asking my partner months ahead of the big day. The most memorable moments were getting ready and having my hair, nails and make-up done, as those are things I have never had done professionally before my matric dance.”

The project entailed providing a range of beautification services for the special night. This included having hair, make-up and nails done, a photo shoot, arranging a car for the girls to arrive in style, along with a special number plate branded with their names.

After approaching Lucia Swanepoel, a teacher at Zandvliet High, with other teachers at the school, to nominate a deserving learner for the project, Vlaandorp was informed two girls, Chantell Jullies and Sonja van Zyl, were deemed perfect candidates.

Van Zyl needed her nails and hair to be styled, while Jullies was in need of the entire package, including a suit for her partner, Keagan Jullies. “When the girls heard they had been selected for the project, they were both very excited and expressed their gratitude for the help,” Vlaandorp related.

“I think they were really relieved that they didn’t have to stress about those important elements of their matric dances any longer. Their parents also expressed sincere gratitude.”

Throughout the project’s organisation phase, Vlaandorp’s idea was well received by Heklderberg service providers, individuals and businesses, many immediately offering their services to the worthy cause. She managed to secure the services of Ashley Wright (make-up), Ashlyn Wantza (Ashlyn’s Nail Salon), Brandon and Lance of Team Honda, Ethan Beukes (photographer), Cape Laminate and Graphic (number plate) and Keith’s Suit Hire.

“I am extremely grateful for all the help, patience, effort and complete selflessness we received from these people and businesses,” she said, “this project wouldn’t have been possible without them.

“I also need to thank my father and grandfather, who drove us wherever we needed to be, whenever we needed to be there. I know this project has made a difference in Sonja and Chantell’s lives, as it made their matric dance experience a little less stressful and a whole lot more special.”

And this, Macassar’s own fairy godmother, hopes to make more matric farewell dreams come true. “I definitely want to continue the project next year,” she says, “but this time I will start planning in December.

“For 2019, I hope to, God willing, include learners of Macassar High School, extend the project to include boys, and add more aspects to the package, such as dresses, shoes and accessories.”

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