I am an ex-Gurkha and have given many years of service to the British Army. I am a retired man living with my wife and two sons. I am currently looking for work and have been finding it a challenge to cope with the level of paperwork and applications that have come my way.
I was invited to a presentation by our Local Nepalese Community Leader and found out about an advice service for Gurkhas ran by Migrant Help. Since then, I have been accessing the service and the advisers and volunteers have been helping me deal with my difficulties in areas such as housing benefit, Job Seeker's Allowance, Child Benefit & Child Tax Credit. The advisers were so helpful that I have recommended the service to many of my friends and relatives who struggle with the similar issues due to lack of education and poor English.
As most of the documents are in a different language, it takes us longer to understand things. Trying to learn and deal with new ways of doing things in such a short time span after arriving is impossible. The service being offered by Migrant Help is so very important, especially to people like me with limited knowledge and education.
Due to my poor English and basic education, I found it challenging to manage and understand things such as my rent, my bills and other letters or documents.
One day, through the help of a volunteer at the Gateway I was able to find out about the Nepalese-speaking advice and guidance service provided by Migrant Help. Without hesitation, I went to seek help and immediately felt comfortable.
The Migrant Help adviser and volunteers have been helping me ever since and have dealt with many of my problems such as benefit overpayment, my housing benefit application and many other issues. Through this service, I am now able to understand all of the documents. The advisers also take the time to support me to take the lead in resolving each issue myself.
I’d been desperate for work. When I was finally offered a job as a driver in Rosiori de Vede, I felt so happy. I quickly realised things were not as I’d expected. My employers, a couple in their 40s, wanted me to steal and be violent to people who owed them money. When I refused, I was beaten. I had my kneecaps smashed and my ribs broken. One time, they slashed me with a knife. Another time, the couple’s sons raped me.
That winter, with no idea where we were going, I drove for six days. We ended up in London. More than 25 people – my captors’ friends and family – lived at the house we arrived at. I slept on the floor of a wooden shed in the garden.
The hardest thing was seeing what was happening to Elena. She was just six years old. The couple had tricked her mother into letting her live with them, promising to look after her. But she had become their slave. They beat her violently and made her work up to 20 hours a day. Elena gave me the strength I needed to escape. I had to get her out of there.
One night, when everyone was sleeping, I found where they had hidden my passport and went to the police station. They went back for Elena and I was introduced to Migrant Help. Our lives finally changed.
Two years ago I had nothing. No food and nowhere to live. I’d managed to shower maybe twice a year. Now, thanks to Migrant Help, I have safe accommodation, new clothes and they have helped me see doctors for my health problems. Most of all, they have listened to me. I’m so thankful for everything they’ve done. They’re like a family to me now.