Evelyn sits on a stool in her living room, bent over a length of chain as she attaches paper beads to it one by one. She picks up each bead, holds it up to catch the daylight streaming through her window, and scrutinizes it. Any defect, and she'll put it aside. She wants this necklace to be perfect.
Her young son, Mario, sleeps tied to her back. He won't sleep unless he's near her, and when he's awake, he's constantly underfoot. Sometimes, making jewelry with her son demanding so much attention is difficult, she says, but she presses on.
Evelyn's daughter, Maris, sits on their dirt floor, watching the family's two chickens make their way through the living room. She's waiting for her friends to return from school. She should have started lessons this year, but the fees were just too steep. Only Evelyn's eldest son, Michael, will be attending school this year.
Evelyn hopes Tuli will change that.
We began working with Evelyn in May 2014. We met her at a market in Kampala, where she was trying to sell her jewelry to shoppers, but having little luck. Some months, she'd make only a few dollars, she said. Occasionally, she'd make around $20, and those were the months that saved her.
One year ago, Evelyn's husband left her with their two kids and one on the way. It was a Saturday morning. He got up that morning, and without a word, strode from the house. He never came back.
We spent about a month with Evelyn, getting to know her and her children as we made jewelry with her and trained her to join our team. One day, we asked her what her dream was.
"I want all three of my children to go to school," she said. "I do not have my dream; I have dreams for my children. If I can take care of them, and do not fail to send them to school, I am happy."
But, she added, she would like to one day pour cement flooring in her home and maybe even have running water.
Evelyn is quick to smile and wired with kindness. Her home is a bit of a hub for her neighbors, who stop by several times a day to say hello. She chats with all of them, offers food when she has it, and is genuinely interested to hear about their lives. She seldom speaks of herself.
She lives by a mantra, which is scribbled on a piece of paper tapped to her wall as a reminder: "Don't complain about your problems to other people. Most of them have been through worse than you. Trust God; he cares."
When we gave Evelyn her first month's pay for working with Tuli, her eyes filled with tears. She made us promise to tell our customers how much their support means to her and her family.
"Everything has changed," she said.