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 Rodelyn, her story and her soles.
The old saying goes that a “picture can tell a thousand words”. Flor’s picture might speak a thousand words related to her smile, but those one thousand words won’t come close to accurately covering her journey. Flor has packed an enormous amount in to her life so far, and most of the effort hasn’t been for her own benefit, it’s been for her family.
After high school Flor wanted to join the military. She sat and passed all the tests but was ruled out on one factor – she was too short. So it was off to college where she began a degree in agriculture, changing along the way to computer programming, and graduating after two years. Employment was next, with one and a half years spent as a nanny for special needs children in the Philippines, before the opportunity to work overseas was presented.
Up until this point, through her income from jobs during and after study, she had helped two members of her family attend and graduate college. Her overseas work opportunity meant a higher wage than in the Philippines, but as it turned out it also came with much tougher working conditions. As a domestic worker for a family in Kuwait, Flor spent three years almost entirely confined to the families large house, spending so much time indoors that her skin lost a lot of it’s natural colour. Flor admits that those three years were difficult, but she continued to work, as the income helped her cousin through university, where he graduated with a degree in Criminology, something Flor is incredibly proud of.
Flor has now been in Dubai for three years, and is working as a household manager for a family she loves. She has a lot of friends she catches up with in her spare time and because she’s not the kind of person that enjoys an empty schedule she is also involved in a Dubai based charity organisation.
Future plans? She has many, and it’s not surprising to learn they aren’t so much focused on her, as they are on her family. With a large clan back in the Philippines Flor’s plan is to save up enough money to purchase land they can live and farm on.
The story behind the soles
When Flor was asked to transform a pair of blank shoes she immediately enlisted the help of her friend Gerald, who works in the same building. Gerald is a draughtsman by training and brought some sweet design skills to the project.
Flor and Gerald used red on the shoes to represent the red of the Philippines flag and symbolise their home country.
The eye shape with the children holding hands speaks of a vision of a brighter future for the less fortunate children of the world.
The zip is how Flor describes life – “you never know how wide it is unless you open it.”