Valerie Taylor – an inspiration

One can’t really speak of the paralysed in Asia without mentioning Valerie.  She is known as the Mother Theresa of  the paralysed and rightly so.

Valerie photo

This is a typical picture of Valerie – always smiling, being attentive and truly listening to what you have to say.

Valerie Taylor is a British born physiotherapist and philanthropist, living in  Dhaka, Bangladesh since the late 1960s.  She is the founder and driving personality behind Dhaka’s Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP).  Founded in 1979 in response to the desperate need for services for spinal injured patients, CRP focuses on a holistic approach to rehabilitation, recognising that all aspects of the rehabilitation process are vital for its success.   CRP has now developed into an internationally respected organisation with a 100-bed hospital, exercise & sports area and offers vocational training programmes to women and the paralysed to improve opportunities for generating an income.

Being the driving force behind CRP, you will not be surprised to hear Valerie has been awarded an O.B.E. (Order of the British Empire for her outstanding efforts providing holistic treatment for the paralysed) and also the “Shadhinota Dibosh Podok”, the highest civilian award of Bangladesh.

So it was no surprise to everyone else (but an unexpected surprise for Valerie!), for her to be awarded the 2015 ASCoN Star Award at the recent ASCoN conference here in Kathmandu.  Presented by none other than Nepal’s newly appointed President, Her Excellency Bidhya Devi Bhandari.

Valerie received a standing ovation while receiving the award.  I would not expect any less.

A very proud moment for CRP-Bangladesh I am sure.

DSC_0167 (1024x681)

Her Excellency presenting Valerie Taylor of CRP Bangladesh, with the ASCoN Star Award in recognition of her hard work and dedication to those with spinal cord injuries everywhere.

What would the world be without connections?  Listen to this:

  1. Valerie and CRP-Bangladesh have been of significant influence to SIRC when Kanak Mani Dixit and the other SIRC Board Members were first planning the initiation of SIRC some 14 years ago.  Valerie provided much advice and guidance to the Board when SIRC was but in it’s infancy.
  2. And secondly, Stephen & Maggie Muldoon of Livability International have worked for decades with Valerie and her team at CRP-Bangladesh and leveraged their experiences to the benefit of SIRC.

How fortunate SIRC is to have such high caliber supporters.

As for me, I felt rather honoured to meet the esteemed Valerie Taylor for the first time this year, and to spend a good long time talking to her about her work and in particular, the income-generation programs CRP now offers.

Me and Valerie Taylor

Valerie sharing her wisdom with me at ASCoN 2015

Her gentle quiet nature impressed me no end, as did her dedication to those she serves, her good heart and readiness to share her story and those of others.  I felt I was in the presence of greatness.  And I was.

Congratulations Valerie!

About Kate Coffey

After 30 or so years in the investment management industry, 2013 saw me turn my life up-side-down, making my way first to Nepal, then Bangladesh during that first ‘year away’. The year took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and its people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located in Bhainsepati - 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Saanga foothills. Since 2014, I have returned to SIRC numerous times, working closely with the folks there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes. In Bangladesh I marvelled at the strength and resilience of marginalized women who have the courage and audacity to break the rules and make a better life for themselves and their children through microfinance programs with BRAC. 2016-2017 saw me embark on a totally new experience in Sri Lanka, a place I never would have chosen to end up in. It’s the 40C+ heat, big humidity and tropical snakes & animals that scared me! But I ended up love love loving! my time there, working with predominantly Tamil small business owners in remote villages in north and east of the country, trying their best to recover their businesses and the lives of their employees, after decades of a civil war. My time in Sri Lanka made me realize my hard-earned business skills and experience can really be put to good use! The work the BIZ+ team and I did there ended up earning me International Volunteer of the Year Award in December 2017, presented on Capitol Hill, Washington DC no less. I am currently home on Bowen Island, in the west coast of Canada, shoring up my finances before I head off to who knows where, for my next expert volunteer assignment. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2013-2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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4 Responses to Valerie Taylor – an inspiration

  1. Renée says:

    thank you Kate for this sensible blog for/about Valerie. When I first met her last year in Bangla Desh she absolutely hit my heart just by the extraordinary and humble way she meets people, and her life work merits all awards… I am grateful to have met her

  2. Kazi Shoyeb says:

    You are cordially welcome at CRP.

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