Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP).
I was delighted that Valerie Taylor OBE was able to accept our invitation to the club on Monday, I have had the privilege of getting to know her during my visits to Bangladesh. We also welcomed five visitors who had been volunteers with Valerie, and 7 other guests – to the club who were pleased to take the opportunity to meet up with Valerie during her brief visit to Leeds. Valerie made the point that visitors/volunteers are always most welcome at CRP. Phil Commons also kindly contributed to the presentation. Phil has worked with Valerie in Bangladesh, she made a major contribution to setting up the physiotherapists training institution and is one of the trustees of the Valerie Taylor fund raising Trust,
Valerie is a British physiotherapist who arrived in Bangladesh with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) in 1969. Forty years later she has transformed the experience of disability in the country. The scale of what has been achieved with her inspiration is difficult to perceive. When she arrived in Bangladesh Valerie was appalled at the desperate plight of people paralysed by spinal injury or disease and the fact that they were often left to beg or to die. It took ten years of persistence but finally in 1979 she opened the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP). Originally 4 patients in a disused cement warehouse, the centre now has a 130 in-patient beds for people with spinal injury. The part of the talk that remains in my mind is the smiling photo of a 10 year old girl who was being cared for in bed after she had broken her neck. The completely avoidable accident that caused the injury was her scarf being caught in the mechanism of a motorised tut tut (small taxi) one of 35 women or girls who have been treated at CRP for broken necks from the same cause! Valerie I’m sure will be initiating and supporting action to change the design of the vehicles! Treating patients is only a small part of the organisation, a holistic approach is so important in Bangladesh. For example, providing occupational training and resources so wheel chair uses can generate an income, final rehab taking place in a hostel without electricity reproducing the village situation. There is a strong social welfare department for patients. Wheelchair sports are a regular feature of the centre. It also has a mother and child unit and a hostel and integrated schooling for children with cerebral palsy. Rotary international recently made a donation to expand and develop the building the children live in.
In addition to the in-patient services offered by the centre, over 15,000 out-patients are seen every year! The centre has made a significant contribution recently to rehabilitating survivors of the widely publicised Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh. That building was less than one mile away (see picture)
The Bangladesh Health Professional Institute is also a part of the complex. This runs fourteen different health care professional courses including courses for nurses, physiotherapists, laboratory technicians OT and it has the only training course in Bangladesh for speech therapists.
In recognition of her unique contribution to disabled people in Bangladesh, Valerie has received many awards including the highest civilian award in the country and an OBE and Horary doctorate in the UK.