Soles & Stories saw nine Dubai based nannies/domestic workers shaking their creative bones and transforming some blank TOMS shoes into artworks inspired by their own journeys.
The nine shoe artists shared their personal stories, the joy and the pain of the journeys that brought them to today, and their hopes for where their journeys will take them tomorrow and beyond.
Here is Maria, her story and her soles.
Maria never really intended to come and work in Dubai. After finishing high school in her home country of the Philippines she became the go-to baby sitter for family and friends, and even though the work was irregular she found she enjoyed it.
When an offer was made by a Philippine agency to work overseas Maria took the opportunity of regular work and decided it was time to make the move. As the youngest child in her family, and the only girl alongside six brothers, leaving home was a big move for everyone, but for Maria, the timing was right.
Initially working as a domestic helper in Abu Dhabi, Maria’s introduction to overseas work was turbulent. She moved on from her first job after only one month, before being brought to Dubai when her new employers moved from Abu Dhabi. One job change later and Maria is now a home-helper with the Fletcher family, and loves spending time with the two young girls, Keara and Imogen.
She has lived in the U.A.E for five years now and even though future timelines are never very accurate in Dubai, Maria does see herself remaining here for another few years at least.
Her ultimate dream is to return home to the Philippines and study to become a school teacher, however the high fees have so far prevented her from doing so. She continues to save her money towards that goal and sees her current work as experience for her future.
The story behind the soles
Maria attended Catholic School in the Philippines and was taught to cross-stitch by the nuns. She hasn’t cross-stitched since she has been in Dubai but she reacquainted herself with the art to produce the amazing heart on the front of the shoes. The meaning of the heart is uncovered in Maria’s own quote that runs in two parts over the shoes: “Being a good person doesn’t depend on your religion, your race or your skin colour, or your culture. It depends on how good is your heart, and how good you treat others.”