My visit at CRP

Category: Special Report - Updated by CRP on August 23rd, 2009 at 13:08

My visit to the Center for the
Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP)
Health and disabilities are not my strong point. I don’t understand a lot of the terms, and img_6395.JPGam still trying to figure out how it fits into an effective development plan. What I am coming to understand, however, is the enormous impact that a major health issue or accident can have on a family. The other day I went to CRP (check the website ) to learn more.

My friend Richard, who you’ve heard a bit about, suggested it. My first impression was the size and cleanliness of the campus (a clean space in Bangladesh is like an oasis in a desert). After checking in for a tour with the cheery reception lady, who was wheel-chair bound, I was asked to wait in the lounge area. A kind, but somewhat timid woman named Shamli offered me tea and biscuits. After striking up a conversation with her, I found out that she started working at CRP after Lovli, her paralysed daughter and CRP patient, had passed away (not reflective of CRP’s effectiveness, I don’t believe…otherwise Shamli probably wouldn’t be working there). She showed me Lovli’s paintings which were amazing to begin with, but when I found out she had done them with her mouth I was blown away. Shortly after, I was greeted by a CRP employee who presented me with a packet of materials and gave me a background of the organization.

The tour, which was only supposed to go 1 ½ - 2 hours, lasted 3 hours. They showed me so much, and were so well prepared, even though I came unannounced! Founded in 1979 by a British women doing volunteer work in Bangladesh, CRP is the leader in paralysed care in the South Asia region, and the only organization in Bangladesh that specializes in spinal cord treatment. They provide a holistic approach to treatment, taking patients from an acute phase to an active phase, then to a rehab phase, and finally reintegrating the individual into the community. Over 350 inpatients and many more outpatients every year receive care from CRP, receiving services ranging from spinal cord surgery to occupational therapy. They employ unique, low-cost techniques like paper Mache to build their own exercise devices (for example, mobility games for kids) for rehabilitation.

CRP works with all ages (Cerebral Palsy makes up the majority of problems in kids, while img_6394.JPGadults primarily suffer with stroke). They follow them all the way through the process - before being discharged they even have a Halfway Hostel where they live in a house that simulates their own - if they live in a mud hut, CRP has a mud hut to practice living in. If they have a concrete home with electricity, they’ve got that too. They also make their own custom fit prosthetics and wheel chairs. Once discharged, CRP will also go to their homes to make sure the home is prepared to work with the patient’s new limitations - for example adding a ramp to the door.
I was truly impressed with the professionalism and concern of all the employees I met (and as an added bonus, they could all speak pretty good English). CRP is looking to spread itself even more throughout Bangladesh and increase its attention on prevention and awareness. This is an organization that, although it is a non-profit and relies heavily on donations, is providing a much needed answer to a problem that is not being addressed by the non-existent government safety net here in Bangladesh (hope you could follow that). I’m excited to learn more about health and poverty in the coming months.

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The writer Rob Whiting has graduated from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, United States and now interning at BRAC University in Dhaka