In a small village lost in the middle of the Sahel desert, Zamiatou is the mother of two little boys and a teenage daughter, Hareyrata. While her husband is handicaped both mentally and physically, all the choresfall on Zamiatou who's also keen on giving a good education to her children. Life is very hard in this godforsaken place. Young Hareyrata would like to help herfamily by being hired as a maid by “foreigners'", westerners working for a mining company and living near by in their lovely houses. Zamiatou is not ready to comply to her daughter's wishes but when the town's grocer refuses to sell her rice on credit, she goes to the white people herselfin order to find a job. However, they don't care for his ageing woman and would sooner hire her lovely daughter. Zamiatou is determined to survive. She visits an old lover who gives her an old donkey and a few goatskin bottles. She's now able to make a living by selling water in the desert. And young Hareyrata soon takes her place. While the sun is rising at the horizon, Zamiatou starts to smile.