Valerie is a British physiotherapist who first arrived in Bangladesh with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) in 1969. She 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. Valerie committed herself to bringing about a change in the situation she saw. It took ten years of persistence but finally in 1979 she opened the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP). In recognition of her unique contribution to disabled people in Bangladesh, Valerie received the ‘Shadhinota Dibosh Podok’ the highest civilian award of the country and in 1993 she was awarded the ‘Order of the British Empire’ (OBE).
Originally 4 patients in a disused cement warehouse, the centre now has over 100 in-patient beds. It has a mother and child unit; a hostel and integrated schooling for children with cerebral palsy. In addition to the in-patient services offered by the centre, over 55,000 out-patients are seen every year. There is also an independent living centre for disabled women, which has recently attracted funding from UK-based high street retailer, Marks & Spencer. There are excellent videos about CRP by Alistair Whitty and Andy Kershaw.
Currently all VTT’s Income (after administrative costs) is given to CRP.
Do you have any interesting stories about Valerie and her life’s work in Bangladesh? Exploratory work is underway to see how a record might be compiled and to identify sources of material. Please contact us by clicking here if you do have a story to tell. The project is self-funding (no VTT funds will be used) so suggestions about possible sources of sponsorship would be very helpful.