WATCH: The day I met a real-life fairy godmother
Epic Foundation, FOUR (Photo: Channel24)
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Johannesburg - I'm sure every child would agree, the best part of the Cinderella story is when the fairy godmother waves her magic wand and turns Cinderella's torn and tattered clothes into a beautiful ballgown.
I never thought such magic could exist in the real world, but it turns out right here in Johannesburg, young princes and princesses from all over the city have found a fairy godmother of their own.
My first conversation with Alta McMaster, owner of the EPIC Foundation and Fairy Godmother Project, took place over the phone. We had only spoken for a short amount of time, but even then she was willing to put her own life aside to try and accommodate my needs.
A rape survivor herself, Alta started the EPIC foundation in 2003 to help other rape survivors by putting together what she calls, "comfort packs." Her organisation slowly grew and before long, she found herself helping people from all walks of life, including high school learners.
Her castle takes the form of a warehouse, set in an industrial park South of Johannesburg. On arrival, it's hard to imagine something so formal could hold so much magic within.
Stepping inside was like walking into the biggest walk-in closet in the world. I was fortunate to see Alta's magic at work when we first met - a young lady had come in for a fitting. Like Cinderella's woodland friends, the volunteers at the EPIC Foundation danced around the large space, picking dress after dress from the rails, all in an effort to make one young lady's night special.
The best part is, after midnight, this princess wouldn't have to worry about her carriage turning back into a pumpkin. Alta allows all her students to keep every item of clothing given to them. Her only request is that they pay it forward and help someone else in need.
On my visit to meet with this one-of-a-kind woman, I was introduced to six of the students she had previously helped.
A matric dance is a rite of passage, and arguably, one of the most important nights in a teenagers life. It's hard for me to imagine a high school learner not attending their matric dance because they have "nothing to wear." Sadly, this is a reality for many high school students.
I was able to spend the day learning more about Alta and the people she helps. We chatted, had lunch, played Trivial Pursuit (P.S. I was on the winning team), and even had a visit from X Factor SA winners FOUR, and professional soccer player Stanton Lewis.
Here's what happened:
You can find out more about the Epic Foundation and how you can help here.