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[ soles & stories DXB ] Lani

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 list would be long if you were to name all the differences between the Philippines and Dubai, but for Lani it’s all in the stars. 
Without electricity in her rural home there were no lights to wash out the night sky and the stars were always overhead and always ready to be admired. There is almost a sense of loss when she talks about the night sky of Dubai, and the Christmas tree buildings that outshine all but the brightest stars.

The night sky is about to start glowing back in the Philippines though, as Lani’s work in Dubai has helped pay for her family home to be fitted for electricity for the very first time. Wiring is currently installed in the house and the next step is a connection to the main grid and then a flick of the switch. What Lani’s family lose in starlight they will gain in power, and Lani is very proud that her three children, Joey, Melanie and Gabriel, along with her elderly parents who they live with, will soon have a home with electricity.

For Lani though, electricity isn’t the most important thing she is providing for her family. Her work with the Khan family in Dubai, and the reason she made the move to Dubai one year ago, is to build her children’s future through the provision of a good education. Lani left school to find work when she was thirteen, and is determined to provide her children with the education that she missed out on. She is the picture perfect proud mother when revealing their achievements. All three children are honour students, excelling at school and grabbing hold of every opportunity that comes their way.

Lani explains that her children’s progress is all the motivation she needs to work, and while frequent phone calls home can’t close the physical distance they do provide a special connection for Lani.


The story behind the soles

Lani’s soles are both a memory of home and a reminder of her journey to where she is now.

The stars are blue like the stars that used to light up the night sky over her home in the Philippines and are hand stitched, a technique she had never tried before. She created the birds to represent her journey, or migration, to Dubai, and the small heart is Lani’s heart, which has carried her to Dubai for her children.