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Senegal Food Stand Feeds Community on a Few Dollars a Day


According to most poverty indicators, almost half the population of Sub-Saharan Africa is living on less than $1 a day. One Senegalese food stand owner shows how far a dollar goes in this part of the world. Her aluminum-sided, cardboard-roofed sandwich and coffee stand in Dakar has become the community kitchen for hundreds of people, mostly men who come from far away to work in the city. For a little over one dollar, diners can afford breakfast, lunch, hot coffee, plus a helping of morning news. Phuong Tran has more from Dakar, Senegal.

Before the sun rises, Astou Diaw, 47, and her daughter, Yoni, ride a bus through Dakar's faintly-lit streets to get to her corner breakfast stand where she has sold bean filled baguettes and coffee for four years.

Before sandwiches, Diaw sold local juices, water and peanuts. But a breakfast stand seemed a better way to help support her family.

"I wanted to help out my husband and our seven kids," she said. "It is hard work and sometimes I cannot cover my costs. But even though it is really hard, I still am able to help out more than before."

A ten-minute bus ride later, Diaw arrives at her husband's metal shop, which is also the kitchen for her food stand.

Mother and daughter work quickly.

They heat a bucket of water, and stir beans over a fire that will go into her signature spicy lentil sandwich, a best selling 50 cent long baguette.

While Yoni washes glasses, Diaw fills a large silver bowl with the lentils. By seven thirty, she takes her seat for the morning rush.

Mamadou Diop comes in for the local drink, a heavily-sugared frothy local drink that tastes like a spicy mix of coffee and tea.

He is a security guard who leaves his house before sunrise every day to travel 30 kilometers to Dakar.

"I come when I have the money. Sometimes, when I do not have money, I will still come by and she will sell me on credit," he said. "Here I can eat good home cooked food. Women like her help us out a lot. We do not have much money. At Astou's stand, for less than 50 cents, you can be full."

A group of men debate the recent presidential elections in Senegal.

Four hours and dozens of customers later, Diaw counts her change. She is short of the six dollars needed to cover her expenses on bread, butter, coffee and beans.

"Mondays are the hardest because most people do not have money yet to pay at the beginning of the work week," she said. "Maybe tomorrow will be better."

Folding her apron, Diaw takes a lentil sandwich with mayonnaise. Leaving her daughter to work the lunch shift, Diaw leaves and waits for the bus to go home.

Despite her cash problem on most Mondays, Diaw was able to make $2,000 last year from her food stand.

This is in a country where about half the population is unemployed, and for those who work, their average annual salary is about $700.

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