Afghan refugee battered by racism, hardship plans to leave New Zealand

A refugee from Afghanistan living in New Zealand plans to return home after enduring personal hardship and racist abuse. 

Sayed Sadat, 54, has lived in Auckland since 2001, after arriving in New Zealand on a fake passport and later being offered residency. He was 14-years-old when he witnessed the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union. 

"I am going because I don't know what else to do," he told Newshub. 

After 17 years living in Auckland, he's considering selling his car to afford a plane ticket back to his home country, despite the risk of bombings and terrorism. He told Newshub his lack of work in New Zealand and ailing health has left him feeling helpless. 

"I've faced many difficulties," he said, reflecting on his time working as a taxi driver. He recalls disrespectful customers who often didn't pay him, once having four customers run off without paying in a single night. 

Some customers, he said, would ask where he is from, and then point out Afghanistan's connection to Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attack on New York.  

Mr Sadat has faced disrespect "related to my race and where I come from," he told Newshub. "Now, I'm living in emergency housing and I'm still employed [with] a company," he said, but claims he's been given no work. He did not disclose the name of the company. 

Health issues have also hindered Mr Sadat's experience living in New Zealand. He suffers from fibromyalgia and has faced cardiac problems. It was during this time of prolonged unemployment and ill health that he found inspiration in artistic expression.  

The horrors Mr Sadat has experienced - including having three of his school friends murdered in Afghanistan - has also compelled him to write. He has had two books published: Way to Kabul and Bearing Witness to Taliban Horror. He said he has two more manuscripts ready to go. 

Mr Sadat admits many "fascinating things" have happened during his life in New Zealand, and says he would stay in the country if he had proper work. But the only logical next step is to remove himself from his current situation, he says. 

"I'm not leaving New Zealand forever, but maybe for a few years, to have a sort of peace of mind. But I don't know if I will have peace of mind there [Afghanistan] because I had a very big tragedy," he said, referring to the murder of his brother in Afghanistan in 2007. 

All five of Mr Sadat's children live in New Zealand and are independent. He says his "biggest dream of life" was to give them a higher education, and all of them have now completed their studies and are working. 

But because of Western culture and its emphasis of "individuality", he says, "every one [of his children] has their own life," which has left him feeling lonely.  

"I'm not blaming New Zealand," he told Newshub. "New Zealand is still my country, I'm proud to be a New Zealander, but I need a break from what I'm going through."


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