Michel Lechat

Michel Lechat was medical director of the Yonda leprosy settlement in the then Belgian Congo when Graham Greene arrived in 1959 to research the book that became A Burnt-Out Case; the novel is dedicated to him.

Diary: Graham Greene at the Leproserie

Michel Lechat, 2 August 2007

It would be nice to say that Graham Greene just appeared one day in Yonda, the leprosy settlement in the Equateur Province of the then Belgian Congo where I was the doctor, stepping off the gangway of the bishop’s riverboat as Querry does in A Burnt-Out Case. But Greene did not come unannounced. His visit to Yonda had been arranged through a common friend in Brussels. In his letter to this friend, he had expressed the wish ‘for the purposes of a book to spend some weeks in a hospital of the Schweitzer kind in Africa, but run by a religious order’. My first reaction was mixed: Dr Schweitzer was not highly regarded at the time by health professionals, and our settlement was very different from the leproseries that Greene seemed to be looking for.

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