New book features anecdotes of social sector workers' experiences in Singapore

Titled Beneath The Rug, the publication was launched at the Temasek Shophouse by social enterprise Solve n+1. PHOTO: SOLVE N+1

SINGAPORE - As a special needs educator, one of Ms Sunaina Suri's most memorable moments was when a student interrupted her class and asked to go to the toilet.

What seemed like a simple request for permission was a huge milestone for the student, who had struggled with basic verbal communication until then.

"Saying something as simple as "go toilet" may not seem a big deal to others, but to me, it showed he had progressed enough to communicate his fundamental needs to us. That was a fulfilling moment," said Ms Sunaina.

The 31-year-old joined the special needs education sector as an intern in 2015, where she supported teachers during classes and prepared study materials such as visual cues for students.

"As with many internships, entering the special needs education sector, I felt like I had been thrown in the deep end. But I realised this was the job for me because I wanted to foster inclusivity and help people who are not fully understood by society," she said.

Ms Sunaina was one of more than 30 practitioners from the social service sector who wrote personal stories and anecdotes about their experiences in different fields, from psychology to policy-making, in a new book.

Titled Beneath The Rug, it was launched on Tuesday (Nov 16) at the Temasek Shophouse by social enterprise Solve n+1.

Set up in 2018, Solve n+1 specialises in fostering community-centric work for corporates, government and non-governmental organisations.

Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development Eric Chua, who attended the launch, said: "Beneath The Rug is a timely reminder that the various social issues can neither be addressed by the Government alone nor individuals or organisations.

"Indeed, our social compact is one of shared responsibilities, where the Government provides shared safety nets and creates the conditions for growth and opportunities."

The book provides first-person insights from social service practitioners and beneficiaries across the social sector. It also sheds light on the challenges that workers in the social sector have faced amid the pandemic.

For instance, Ms Sunaina said the pandemic and home-based learning has increased the workload of special needs educators who have to ensure their students are engaged and be in constant communication with the students' parents about administrative matters like restrictions and testing requirements.

She added that she hoped there would be more community support to hire and train students with special needs, so they could have an assured pathway from education to the workplace in the future.

Noting that the book will help readers to better understand the intricacies of the social sector, founder of Solve n+1 Kenneth Heng said: "We fear what we don't understand and it can seem intimidating to approach a social issue that we do not know much about.

"Our hope is that Beneath The Rug will act as a safe platform for Singaporeans to learn about the complexities of social issues. By reading the book, we believe that more individuals will find the compassion to collaborate and serve the vulnerable communities meaningfully."

All proceeds from the sale of the book, which costs $30, will go to social impact projects. Readers can get more information and buy the book at this website.

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