Extraordinary: Andrea Guy Image Credit: XPRESS/ATIQ-UR-REHMAN

Dubai: Who said fairy godmothers don’t exist? As some UAE expats would vouch, they are very much around, acting as mentors or godparents for their little ones when they need them most.

These fairy godmothers may not boast any magical powers, but the role they play is nothing short of extraordinary.

Away from home with no support systems to fall back on, some 300 families in the UAE are currently using the selfless services of these godmothers thanks to an initiative by Dubai-based British expat Andrea Guy. The idea of bridging the gap between the two dawned on Guy three-and-a-half years ago when she herself was struggling with her two children. “I was struggling to cope as my younger one was unwell and I had to drop off my older one to school and cater to his needs. Back in the UK, I had family and friends whom I could call upon to help. But here I had no support system. I realised that there were many mothers like me. At the same time, there were others who had a reasonable amount of free time as they had grown up children or were lonely. That’s when the idea of them acting as surrogate godmothers for people like us came about,” said Guy.

The response to her Fairy Godmothers Club, as one of the volunteers christened the group, was encouraging. In no time, Guy had built up a huge bank of families in need. “My job is to find a volunteer match for them. We choose the volunteers with great care and ensure consistency. They are long-time residents with free time and family experience. ”

She said that the volunteers are not babysitters. The support they provide is practical with an emotional bonding and they do not charge any fee. But their services are invaluable as they look after the kids when their parents are out, running errands or otherwise.

Donna Van Vuuren, a South African mum with an autistic child, relies heavily on fairy godmother Lorraine Davis. “We’ve been here three years and I don’t know what we’d have done without her support. There’s a strong sense of trust and bonding,” she said.