Today is likely the first time that he’s seen cake

5 Jan 2018

Narayan so Velayutham beyond books story

“Today is likely the first time that he’s seen cake.” – the social service professional said this of a 10 year old boy.

I brought this boy to the Tuition Centre of Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA) for the first time.

It was my first assignment upon joining the social service sector.

He was the son of a single parent who juggled two jobs. His mother couldn’t find time to bring him to SINDA Tuition.

SINDA offers education programmes island wide to children. It was my first encounter with a child beneficiary.

When this boy got to the centre, I offered him some refreshments. He stared at the Swiss roll for a long time.

I asked him what was the matter . He pointed at the Swiss roll asking me what it was.

I said “Swiss roll”. He continued staring at it. I said “cake” and he was still not appeased.

A senior teacher came by to tell the boy that it was bread. He then ate the Swiss roll happily.

This incident shook me quite badly because the boy was 10 years old. Surely he has eaten cake in his life?

But, it was likely the first time that he saw cake.

This incident taught me the importance of being relevant to our beneficiaries. It may not be a piece of bread, but that’s all that we needed to tell the boy for him to understand the situation.

This lesson had framed my career of seven years at SINDA.

Although we had to work around red tape, we had to try our best to not let our beneficiaries be bounded by red tape.

We need to be relevant to them so that they know they can count on us.

I left my job at SINDA to pursue a Masters in Public Administration so that I can better understand the impact of policy on our society.

After graduation, my plan is to either support the government or private sector in solving deeper social and policy issues.”

The above story is by Narayan s/o Velayutham (Nara Snv), a Master in Public Administration student at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
Narayan s/o Velayutham

Master in Public Administration Candidate (2018)