Walking out of the bank, I paused to look in both directions for any unusual activity or
people. This was a habit I had learned since moving to Kinshasa the bustling capital city of DR Congo with a long and lively history of foreigner purse snatchings and muggings. With the way clear, I headed toward my car parked a few yards away on the busy street, my keys in hand, and focused on covering the distance to safety as quickly as possible.
A boy who looked around ten years old appeared suddenly, wiping the cover of my car’s headlight on the driver’s side. He was dressed like most of the increasing number of street children on the city streets, who were aggressive in begging for money. I decided to go around the car to avoid directly passing him. As I neared, he looked up and smiled.
“Hello, Madame. Your windshield was very dirty, I did not want it to cause you any
danger. I cleaned it for you and noticed your headlights were also not as bright as they needed to be at night for your safe driving. We need you to keep safe so you can do your job to help our country.”
He spoke in perfect French with good manners. This was not the usual street child
beggar. He did not ask for anything but stood patiently waiting. I hurriedly got in, locked the door, and noticed my windshield was immaculate. I let my side window down enough to slip a few Francs to him.
“Thank you, Madame, for your generosity. Drive safely,” he said smiling.
In my rearview mirror, I saw him run to wipe another car’s headlight as someone
approached. He was an entrepreneur. The only street child that made me smile instead of frown.