I was driving in downtown Bamako, the capital city of Mali, and stopped at a red light. Children with water bottles and squeegees ran up to our truck and the vehicles around us, pulled up our windshield wipers, and cleaned the windshields.
A little girl ran up to our truck. She had cocoa colored skin and long hair the color of a moonless African night. She was young, maybe five years old, but her face seemed old, lined with a determination and concern. “Her small face is too full of care for the carefree days of childhood,” I thought.
She was small, so small she couldn’t reach our windshield with her water bottle and squeegee, so small I almost didn’t see her.
Her squeegee was an extension of her thin arm but even together they couldn’t reach the glass. She squirted some water on the hood of the truck instead and scrubbed it back and forth with the squeegee. She struggled to squirt and scrub. She wasn’t strong enough to clean off the thick coat of dust that clings to everyone and everything during the dry season in Mali. She tried so hard. I watched her humbly squirt, scrub and struggle. My heart ached for her. I put all of the change from my pocket in her tiny, frail hand.