Matric farewell worries? There is help is at hand

By Maria Kandjungu 

MATRIC farewell is on the mind of every Grade 12 learner. As they prepare for final exam- inations and officially leaving school, they most of all look forward to dressing up in ball gowns and suits and dancing the night away together. 

However, for many learners the dance is only a dream and an event that they watch from a distance as they are financial- ly unable to make it to the ball. 

Two inspiring young wom- en, Elizabeth Ipinge and Na- dia Malima are determined to change the situation by mak- ing sure that financial barriers do not hold anyone back from their final high school dance. 

Two years ago the two put their heads together and came up with an initiative, called “Cinderella goes to prom” that provides assistance to girls in matric in the Windhoek area, who want to attend the matric dance but are unable to due to financial difficulties. 

The initiative is currently made up of seven executives, including nail technicians, de- signers and make-up artists, amongst others, and provides girls with everything needed to 

attend matric farewell in style: from the dress, to makeup and nails, to the transport to chauf- feur the girls from home to the venue and back – all for free. 

According to Ipinge, who is also the managing director of the initiative, the farewell dance is not just about the one night of glam, because as a once in a lifetime event, it also holds sentimental value. It is also a platform where learners get to formally say goodbye to each other and make final last- ing memories. 

“As much as there are de- bates on the importance of farewell, we need to under- stand that this is something that holds sentimental impor- tance. This is where you bid farewell to all our friends and make some of the last memo- ries with them. 

“You never know when you will meet your classmates and friends again, and that is if you will at all see them again, so the dance is you officially saying goodbye to everyone. Two of my classmates passed on a year after we finished high school and my last mem- ories and pictures with them are from our matric farewell dance,” Ipinge recalled. 

She further pointed out that some learners also see matric farewell as a reward for all their efforts. “I looked forward to matric farewell, to wearing my gown and going to the dance, that was a sort of reward for me and I think it is the same for so many other kids. So it can be discouraging and heart- breaking to see that in class there are girls that want to go but have no financial means to do so,” she said.
According to co-founder and public relations officer Malima, they are also trying to curb students from being pres- sured into social ills – such as predatory ‘blessers’ – just for a one night of glam and thereby to jeopardise their future in the process. 

“We want to re-instill self-confidence in young girls by saying they are worth more and do not need to compro- mise their self-worth and dignity for one night, when there are people out there who believe in them and can help them for free,” Malima smiled. 

The initiative does not only focus on the farewell aspect, but also provides ongoing moral guidance and mentor- ship to the girls after the dance. 

“We help boost their con- fidence and encourage them to study and do better in their academics, as they realize that someone out there recognizes them and cares about them. We keep in touch with the girls, guide them and mentor them for as long as they feel they need our help,” she point- ed out. 

According to her, they have seen a great improvement in grades among the girls they 

have assisted so far. Malima further noted that the mentor- ship does not end with the girls leaving high school as they continue to help them with ca- reer choices and university ap- plications, as well as the transi- tion into university life. 

“After Grade 12 you go from being a child to a mature young adult and no one intro- duces you to all the things in- volved in that process so we try to assist during this period and being there for them in every way we can,” Malima said. 

Ipinge and Malima use money from their own pock- ets to assist the girls, and have so far helped nine girls in the past two years and are looking to assist over 10 girls this year. 

“It’s not about how much we spend, it is about seeing a smile on someone’s face and knowing that I put it there. For me that is the best feeling ever. And when it’s from the heart, the universe and God send the right people your way. 

“We sometimes send these girls by taxi to prom and they are okay with that too. We see families seeing their children dressed up and glammed up and they cry and for us that is the most important part and our best reward,” Ipinge said.