Share and Enjoy
British born philanthropist and physiotherapist Valerie Taylor spent most of her life in Bangladesh treating and rehabilitating the people suffering from neurological disorders and running the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) which was founded by her. She came to Bangladesh with a charity organization in 1969 for 15 months, but decided to devote her life to serving the paralysed here, among whom, the poor were especially vulnerable.
CRP, which started with 4 patients in a warehouse, is now a 100-bed hospital and serves about 1500 patients at its outdoor.
For her humanitarian work, Valerie won Rotary International award this year. Recently, The Daily Star (TDS) interviewed her about the prospects of children with disabilities in the country. What follows are excerpts of the interview.
TDS: Children with special needs are often considered a financial burden in Bangladesh. Is this a retrospective of how expensive specialized services for them are?
Valerie: Children with special needs being considered a financial burden will in many cases reflect the fact that specialised services are often expensive for their families. Service centres will vary in price and some will provide services free of cost if the family cannot afford these. The majority of services will be found in Dhaka and other cities causing the majority of children with special needs from across the country to be unable to access these. Also many families are unaware of the places that might be able to assist their children with special needs.
TDS: Children with special needs being abused both physically and mentally, is a common reality. Why is it such?
Valerie: I think that abuse of children with disabilities can occur anywhere in the world. I believe that you will always find some parents and relatives who are devoted to their child with a disability and others who abuse them both physically and mentally. To help remedy this awareness raising about the problem and the solution should be spread across the general public and the print media is a wonderfully powerful tool to spread the positive messages necessary. Television and radio should also be employed to help reinforce these messages more vigorously. We are very grateful to The Daily Star for focusing on these problems in an effort to resolve them.
TDS: Do you support providing specialized services for children with special needs in regular schools, or creating separate schools for them?
Valerie: Wherever possible the ideal would be to have able and disabled children studying at school along side each other. In this way everyone benefits and this introduction of disabled children in regular schools can help change the attitude towards disability in the next generation. Of course, children with a severe disability are sometimes unable to manage in a regular school and would ideally need individual help and tuition to meet their potential. My feeling is that segregating children in different schools, depending on their physical or mental disability, is a backward step but at all costs they need the chance of schooling.