A day with Valerie Taylor
To be honest, it would not be an exaggerated criticism if I say that - today's generation is more concerned about their entertainment rather than doing something for others. When the flames of humanity and fellow feeling are much more required than any thing else, we need a glaring example before us to fuel our sleeping humanity. Today, such a bright example will be before us to show us the right path and reminding us the great words of Mother Teresa: 'We cannot do great things, but we can do small things with great love'
Here is a short interview of Valerie Taylor, the founder of CRP(Centre for Rehabilitation of the Paralysed) :
SC: We feel extremely proud of you that despite of being a citizen of Britain, you are serving Bangladesh for a long time through your work. We want to know the backdrop of such a noble decision.
VT: When I passed my 3 years course of physiotherapy, my teacher asked me 'What is your plan for future? Already, I had read some books on the health system in south-India and was interested to come to the Subcontinent as a volunteer. I contacted with British voluntary program and they insisted me to go for further 2 years basic experience. I did this and they called me to a small hospital in Chandraghana in Chittagong Hill Tracts. I thought I might not like the place so took the decision to go there for 15 months only. But when my plane landed in your country, I just fell in love with it and after passing 15 months, I extended my stay.
SC: We can presume the hardship and inconvenience you had to endure in your initial struggle to set up a hospital in a country which just started to walk among the debris of war (1971), but we want to hear it from your own words.
VT: It took 3 years to set up this institution. The friends who assisted me were- Niyamatullah - social worker, Syed Ahmed - physiotherapist, Shawkat Ali Khan occupational therapist, we started in one ward of the Shaheed Suhrawardi hospital. But we realized that it was not possible for us to change one ward into a hospital. So we decided to start a separate institution. It took two years to have the formal approval of the government and the third year to secure funding. The initial funding came from Oxfam and a source in Holland. In 1979 we opened our doors to spinal injuries.
SC: Tell us about the implementation of the dream - the process of building a hospital in an alien country.
VT: Our first problem was we did not have any permanent address, for 11 years we just roamed like gypsies from one place to another. In the first location we built a basketball court, vegetable garden, but we had to leave those areas to extend our service. In the middle of 1990 we found a plot in Savar of 5 acres. The two wonderful donations came from Mrs. Maksuda Chowdhury and Mushtaq Ahmed. We started to develop programs, and we have programs for vocational training which included - nursery training, electronic repairing training, shop keeping, tailoring, computer operating, metal & wood workshop, special teaching for children who are paralyzed.
An UK based NGO Motivation has helped us tremendously to develop appropriate wheel chairs. Also ICRC (International Committee of Red Cross) helped us through training and providing equipment to set up an orthotics and prosthetics department.
We try our best to face the challenges of our patients to complete physical rehabilitation, including emotional, social and economic rehabilitation.
SC: You have already attained praiseworthy success in your work, got heart-felt love from the people of Bangladesh, are you satisfied with what you have achieved ? Or do you still want to go further? What is your next plan? Is there any specific goal you have in your mind? Please do share with us.
VT : I am very grateful because people of Bangladesh have shown a great interest in this institution. To develop our project we have plans to start a satellite spinal injury unit in medical colleges around the country.
SC: You have been in Bangladesh for a long time. How do you feel for this country and her people?
VT : I am happy in Bangladesh and when I go to UK I feel like a fish out of water !
SC: You have dedicated your whole life for our country. What do you think you got in return from us? Or have we been able to return you anything worthy to you?
VT : I have got the privilege to work with the people of this country. I have become the legal guardian of two disabled girls who are studying and working. They are my family in this interesting journey.
SC: What dreams do you cherish for the future of our country?
VT : I admire many good things in Bangladesh. Like the combined family system. I also love the green beauty of your country. Bangladesh should preserve its beautiful environment.
SC: Thank you Madam for your valuable...
(Department of Law, Dhaka University)