The Girl With the Salidaga

One of my friends came to visit from The States recently and during her visit there is one instance that sticks in my mind.  We were riding the bus from Bamako to Sevare when unsurprisingly our bus broke down in Segou.  I had to go to the bathroom and so I asked around.  One of the guys sitting there told me where the outhouse was so I headed out back.  As I was walking a small shadow came running up to me out of the darkness.  A cute little girl who couldn’t have been older than 3 years old had run over so she could bring me a salidaga (it’s like a tea kettle but people here use it to wipe their butts and wash their hands).  We exchanged pleasantries and then I went to the bathroom.  As I got out I saw her again sitting with her mom and siblings filling up other salidagas.  I gave her 100 CFA (about 20 cents) without thinking twice, she thanked me politely, and I was on my way back over to my friend.

I don’t know why but this experience really bothered me.  That girl should have been home with her mom playing with toys or sleeping but instead she was sitting in the dark at a bus stop helping strangers go to the bathroom.  It really makes me think about how lucky I am to have been born in America and sad at the same time thinking there are more children like her running around in the darkness.  It makes me wonder if anything can be done to help those who don’t even know they need help.  Who will fight for the children in the dark?


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