The challenges of being an immigrant

Immigrated to New Zealand for 10 years

Sakar came from India in 2012 as a new immigrant.

He worked in IT at a well-paid position before coming to New Zealand.

His dream is to have his own home; besides working from 9am to 5pm, he also takes up other jobs during the weekend and night. Despite it being tiring, he is content with his life.

A banner makes a life change

During the 2017 Christmas holiday, Sakar decided to stay in New Zealand and gave himself a well-deserved holiday.

At that time, he suffered serious pain at his back and shoulder from sitting at his desk working for long hours. He decided to get some physiotherapy. When he finished his treatment and walked out, a banner appeared in front of him that turned his life upside down.

Curiosity driven by 8 million

Sakar noticed a banner hanging next to the physiotherapy, which stated 8 million.

Driven by intense curiosity, he walked into the building and realised that it was a gambling venue. It was full of pokie machines, horse betting machines, and other gambling machines. It was the first time he had ever walked into a gambling venue, and he was intrigued by everything that appeared in front of him.

He had some cash in his pocket and he gambled $20, he won $1,000 at his last bet.

I must be the lucky one

Sakar felt so lucky and he lost his sleep that night, he decided to try his luck again on the next day and he won again.

Since then, he believed he must be the lucky one and spent more time on gambling. Gradually he stopped taking up other jobs and spent all weekend and night on gambling.

He also gambled online in the middle of the night. “Online gambling is more addictive because there is no limit. I can bet $10,000 or $20,000 in one game and gamble as long as I want, all without supervision.”

In this uncontrolled gambling activity, Sakar lost more and more money. Despite having $25,000 in his credit card debt, he still believed that he was the lucky one. “Every time I want to stop, there seems to be a voice in my head saying, you are going to win next hand, so I keep betting”.

From being well-paid to applying for government subsidy

Due to his uncontrolled gambling activity, he could no longer pay for the money he lost in gambling. He lost $10,000 in two weeks. He started asking his parents for money by making up all sorts of excuses. He would say he had a car accident, water was leaking in his house, or needed to buy a gift for his girlfriend and so on.

“This life lasted for about 15 months; I was still working but I knew it was all for my gambling activity. I lost my job in 2021 and I become homeless.”

Sakar had to apply for government subsidy for living.

Dare not tell his parents, no one to talk to

“My parents have decent jobs in India and my family is financially well off. I dare not tell my parents about my real situation; I always tell them I am fine but actually I am not fine.”

I’m so disappointed in myself

“I became a burden to my family and my friends; I had gambling debts that I could not pay off. I knew it was wrong, but I couldn’t control myself and had no one to talk to.”

Thanks for giving me hope in my life

Sakar suffered serious insomnia and body aches due to the stress, that he had to see his GP and the GP referred him to Asian Family Services for help.

He was very reluctant at first, he did not think counselling can help him and it was a shame.

However, as his trust in his counsellor grew, he gradually opened his heart. His counsellor helped him to understand that gambling activities are designed to be addictive, and gambling addiction changes the secretion of chemical elements within our brain, thus making it difficult for people who are addicted to it to pull themselves out.

To relieve his stress and depression, his counsellor taught him a lot about exercise and how to deal with his emotions.

“I often think if I had sought professional help early on; I would have realised the damage gambling does to me, it affects me not only financially but also mentally.”

“I want to tell those who are affected by gambling harm like me, if you find your gambling activity beyond your control, such as always thinking about gambling; spending more money than you can afford; feeling guilty about your gambling but unable to stop; having difficulty in sleep, worry, anxiety, depression because of your gambling, you must seek professional help as soon as possible.”

“Now, I decided to start over. The past experience, I will take it as a motivation to start again, I want to look forward.”

“I still have my New Zealand dream in my heart, and I will let it come true.”

Professional services funded by Te Whatu Ora

Asian Family Services is funded by Te Whatu Ora to provide help to those that are affected by gambling harm, and it is the only service provider that offers help to all Asians living in New Zealand.

We are an experienced and qualified team of registered professionals, offering a wide range of counselling and social work services. Our staff consists of counsellors, social workers, and health promoters.

Preventing and minimising gambling harm is one of the public health services in New Zealand. If you feel you may have gambling issues or is affected by someone else’s gambling, you can contact Asian Family Services and seek free professional and confidential help.

If you or anyone you know needs help, you can:

Contact Asian Helpline 0800 862 342. Asian Helpline’s operation time is Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm, available in Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Japanese, Hindi, Thai, Vietnamese, and English.
Text us on 832

You can get support through the Asian Family Services website

Asian Family Services

📞 0800862342


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