Cape Town-130919-25 girls from Inkwenkwezi High School in Dunoon received a matric ball dress as part of the Belle of the Ball Project. In pic:Teacher, Yonela Moopelwa hands the dress to extatic Pamela Kwedna-Reporter-Ester Lewis-Photographer-Tracey Adams

Cape Town - The matric dance is one of the occasions when all girls should feel like princesses. And, like Cinderella, some girls need a fairy godmother to lend a hand.

For the girls of Inkwenkwezi High School in Dunoon, their helper was Amy Swartz, a 20-year-old UWC student from Belhar. The dance takes place on Friday night at the Lord Charles Hotel in Somerset West.

Yonela Moopelwa, the school’s computer applications technology teacher, said the matric dance was a special affair for her pupils.

“It’s not every day they get to dress up and go to a formal dance. If you’re from here, it just doesn’t happen,” said Moopelwa.

The school has 143 matrics, but more than 20 girls approached Moopelwa saying they wouldn’t be able to attend the matric dance because their parents couldn’t afford to buy or hire dresses for the occasion.

Some had found dresses, but felt they weren’t good enough to be worn to an event of this stature.

School secretary Sharron Qamaya then sent an email to Cape Talk, asking for assistance. “The response was just amazing,” said Moopelwa.

Swartz, founder of Bell of the Ball, got on board. After attending her own and several other matric dances, Swartz had built up a collection of dresses, shoes and accessories. She had become the go-to person for hair, make-up, accessories and dresses for matric dances.

Four months ago she decided to make it official and expand so that she could help more girls in need of dresses. Since then, she has collected nearly 300 gowns for her organisation which will be launched with a fashion show in Bellville on Sunday night.


On Thursday morning, the girls filed into a classroom and collected their gowns.

Amahle Mpalatyi, 19, chose a long, burgundy gown. “It’s so beautiful. I’m not sure what I would have worn if I didn’t get this dress. I’m just feeling very excited now,” she said.

Mpalatyi hasn’t even bothered finding a partner. She’s happy to go with her friends. She’s confident all eyes will be on her.

Nosethu Nyangweni, 19, said this will be the first time she has attended a formal event. She chose a teal gown with a lot of detail. But, she didn’t want her classmates to see her gown. Nyangweni wants to blow them away at the dance. “I’m very excited and feel great. I always thought ‘one day when I go to my matric ball, I’ll show them all’. Now that I have my dress I already feel like a princess.” - Cape Argus