The common thread that runs through all the journeys of the Soles & Stories shoe artists is family.
Whether it is the constant hope to one day return to them, their motivation to work to better their families lives, or just the memories they have of them, the nannies and domestic workers that have put their artistic skills to work on these shoes all place a massive importance on their families.
Aileen comes from a family of eleven children, and while those are eleven different stories in themselves it’s entirely appropriate that one of those eleven stories intersects with Aileen’s, as her sister Jowena is working as a domestic helper in Amman, and is also a Soles & Stories shoe artist.
Family is not only defined through shared blood though, and Aileen has been working for the same family since her move to Jordan in 2000, becoming part of the family herself over the many years spent inside the home. When she first arrived in Jordan in 2000 her employers had a 5-month-old baby girl, who Aileen has now seen grow into a teenager.
Four years after arriving in Jordan Aileen’s family circle expanded some more when she married her husband Edwin. Aileen met Edwin, who is also from the Philippines, in Jordan, and as homesickness set in they decided to head home and get married in 2004. Two years of being home only saw Aileen miss her employers and adopted family back in Jordan though, and in 2006 she made the decision to return to work in Amman. As it is with families, extra steps were taken and doors were opened, allowing Edwin to also return to Jordan to live and work.
“We are both very happy, although we are far away from family, we are now together,” says Aileen with a big smile that rarely leaves her face.
Through her work Aileen has also been able to financially assist some of her brothers and sisters in their schooling and she describes each and every milestone in their study and careers as proud moments for her.