Saturday 17 August 2013

Raoul Follereau

Raoul Follereau

1903 - 1977

Today, Saturday August 17th, marks the 110th birthday of late Frenchman Raoul Follereau, an extraordinary man who dedicated his life to helping the sick, but especially those diagnosed with leprosy.  

Raoul Follereau, born in 1903 in Nevers, France, was a journalist, philosopher, lawyer and writer. On his travels to North Africa he came face to face with leprosy and leprosy patients. The leprosy patients were not only poverty-stricken, frightened and ill, but also people that had been made outcasts from their own society. Meeting with the leprosy patients in this way was an experience which marked Raoul Follereau, so much so that from then on, he became the spokesperson for all leprosy patients worldwide. 

In 1954 Raoul Follereau founded the first World Leprosy Day. Since then, this day has been commemorated every last Sunday in January, in more than 150 countries. 

In 1966, his initiative resulted in the setting up of ELEP (European federation for the associations working against leprosy). Later on, it became international and came to be known as ILEP, a federation of major anti leprosy organizations).

In 1975, he submitted the text of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Leprosy Affected Persons to United Nations. Follereau died in Paris in 1977 on December 6, but his work lives on through organizations all over the world which call themselves ‘Friends’ of Raoul Follereau. 

To find out more about this remarkable man see the website of the Friends of Raoul Follereau.