In contemporary Mali, a country in West Africa, a little girl named Yatandou explains how a simple machine changes her life and the lives of all of the women and children in her village.  The introduction of this amazing new piece of equipment means that the women and children will no longer spend their days pounding millet by hand.

Most of the northern half of Mali falls within the Sahara, the largest desert on the planet.  The central section of Mali is made up of semi-arid land that is part of a larger region known as the Sahel. Sahel is an Arabic word meaning, "shore," although in this case, it can be thought of as the shore of the desert rather than the shore of an ocean. The Sahel is nearly 3,000 miles long and from 200 to 700 miles wide. It is an area that is gradually being taken over by the southward creep of the Sahara Desert.

It is set against this challenging environment that Yatandou's story takes place. 

On market day I tie on my pagne, my skirt, which Grandmother has dyed a bright blue. My blouse is yellow with a ruffle around the collar. Mother ties a red hawli on her head. She takes a basket of onion balls to sell.

I put a rope around Sunjata so I can lead him to the market.

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