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 Chandi, her story and her soles.
Chandi is a softly spoken little lady who splits her few words with a giggle that could force a smile out of even the most sour of people.
From just outside the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, she has been working in Dubai for twelve years now.
Before her move to Dubai her life in Sri Lanka revolved around her two young boys and she was able to devote herself to full-time motherhood as her mother-in-law had a hotel that provided enough income to look after the family. Unfortunately the hotel was forced to close, and with job opportunities very limited in Sri Lanka at that time, Chandi was forced to look for work overseas.
Twelve years after her move Chandi’s little boys are not so little anymore at eighteen and fourteen, and their lives back in Sri Lanka are a much more interesting topic of conversation for Chandi than anything involving herself.
Chandi’s eldest son Guyarn has finished high school and is completing an IT course, with the hope of also finding work outside of Sri Lanka, possibly in Dubai. Her youngest son Heran loves music and Chandi has just bought him a guitar and is paying for him to attend lessons.
Chandi thinks she will wait untill Heran finishes school before making any decisions on returning home. She owns a small amount of land not far from Colombo that she is keeping as an inheritance for her boys and it becomes clear when talking with her that her future plans revolve around her family, much more than they do around herself.
The story behind the soles.
The stitched red flowers on the left shoe are copies of ones that were on a dress she remembers making while pregnant with Heran. Her two boys birth dates also feature on the left shoe, along with pictures of their two great passions – guitar and cricket. The blue love heart is a tribute to another important boy in her life, Matthew, one of the two boys from the Robinson family, who she works for.
Chandi misses the natural beauty of Sri Lanka and the palm trees, water and plants on the right shoe speak of the stunning landscape she hopes to return to one day.