In 1969, a volunteer physiotherapist came to Bangladesh to work in a hospital in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, a remote and unprivileged area in the Capital city of Dhaka. Seeing the aftermath of 1971, the year of the Liberation War of Bangladesh where the country lost three million lives and left countless people disabled, she was appalled by the lack of treatment and rehabilitation facilities for disabled people.
Her experience drove her back to her own country to seek aid and later on, help save the lives of the disadvantaged and paralyzed people of Bangladesh. She is Valerie Ann Taylor — a 73 year-old British-born philanthropist who now lives in Dhaka and is widely known as the Mother Teresa of Bangladesh.
Valerie Ann Taylor with a disabled kid.
photo from CRP facebook page
Taylor returned to England in 1973 with the goal of raising funds to build a rehabilitation center for the paralyzed. Two years later, she returned to Dhaka with insufficient funds to set up the center.
At last, in 1979, she established the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed (CRP) with four patients in an abandoned hospital warehouse in Dhaka. CRP’s vision is to ensure the inclusion of people with disabilities into mainstream society. They aim to promote an environment where people with disabilities have equal access to health, rehabilitation, education, employment, the physical environment and information.
At present, CRP’s headquarters is based in Savar occupying approximately 13 acres of land with nine additional CRP sub-centers across the country. They provide an extensive range of high-quality services to persons with disabilities.
CRP is the only center of its kind in Bangladesh. Its facilities include a medical center, a therapy station and a rehabilitation center where there are workshops where patients learn how to make mobility aids, assistance devices, wooden toys, post cards, calendars, wheelchairs and the like. These workshops also serve as income generating projects for CRP and its less fortunate patients. CRP’s other services include vocational training for disabled persons, medical therapy and diagnostic services, and training of health professionals up to Bachelor of Sciences (B.S.) in affiliation with renowned institutions including Dhaka University.
In Bangladesh, physical limitation is not the only obstacle to overcome. People’s attitudes and perceptions towards disability and disabled persons have also been a challenge. Presently, CRP runs an innovative awareness raising project which aims to break down the barriers of prejudice and misunderstanding towards disability. This project includes arranging meetings and open discussions at educational institutions and producing feature films. These activities aim to raise awareness about disability and to generate a greater degree of knowledge and acceptance of disabled people in society.Taylor has been the driving force behind the passion and success of CRP. She has been serving the disabled people of Bangladesh for 48 years. In recognition of her social work, she was granted a Bangladeshi citizenship in 1998 and was awarded Independence Day Award, the highest civilian award in 2004 by the Government of Bangladesh.
She has received numerous prestigious awards for her hard work and dedication. Among them include the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), the Arthur Eyre Brook Gold Medal, the National Social Service Award, the Millennium Award, the Hakkani Mission Bangladesh Award, the Princess Diana Gold Medal, the Mahatma Gandhi Peace Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award by Hope Foundation for Women & Children of Bangladesh, and the Rotary International Award.
Valerie Ann Taylor Received Rotary International Award
Photo from CRP facebook page.
Over the years, it is no doubt that Valerie Ann Taylor has been the ambassador of hope for the disadvantaged and disabled people of Bangladesh.