What does one pack in her purse for a trip to the Consulate? Passports, Wolof lessons on MP3 player, attaya (tea) as a gift.


I don’t know if you’ve ever been to an Embassy or Consulate before, but I’ve certainly never been to one like the Senegalese Consulate in Lyon. Seriously – it was like walking back into Africa.

It was awesome.

There was no security check. No asking for our passports or ID of any kind. Not even asking our names. We just said, “We have an appointment at 11am.” The secretary said, “Go upstairs, first office on the left.” So we went.

Standing under the Senegalese flag outside the Consulate

The reason we made this appointment was to get a head start on the formalities for moving to Senegal and starting a clinic. After our experience moving to France, we knew that there would be a LOT of paperwork for visas, residency permits, taxes, renting a house, setting up utilities, opening bank accounts, plus starting a business in cooperation with the Minister of Health.

Here’s what we found out: all of that can be done once we arrive. Because we will be bringing humanitarian aid and developing jobs, the government will make it as easy as possible for us to move and get established in Senegal.

Now I’ve lived in Africa for about ten years and I know that there will be hassles and delays. But to hear that the government wants us there and will facilitate this for us as much as possible… wow. What a huge relief and blessing.

As we got ready to leave, the Consul representative told us to call or stop by any time if we had questions – no need to make an appointment. He gave us his business card with his email and his home and cell numbers. He told us that because of our love for Senegal and its people, he considered us compatriots and also family. (At this point one of us got all teary-eyed. I’ll let you guess who.)

It felt so good to be home.