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.