WWII refugee's son hosts young Ethiopian in need

Hussein took a perilous journey to safety; Charles and Catharine are helping him move forward in London.

LONDON - Charles Elliott, 61, and wife Catharine, 55, have been hosting Hussein, 20, from Ethiopia since October 2016.

Hussein fled because his father is a political prisoner. Charles’ parents were refugees from Germany, so hosting people in need of international protection resonates strongly with him.

“The big smiles and gratitude, it’s beautiful to live with. You just learn how to communicate even if you don’t speak the same language,” Charles said, “It’s very difficult to resettle."

Catharine has raised two boys who have now moved out. “The difference between London-born and Ethiopia-born teenage boys is minimal. Teenage boys the world over are the same. They don’t realise sheets need changing and that laundry doesn’t walk away on its own,” she said. “You just have to train them in the nicest way.”

Hussein said his journey has been extremely difficult but he is happy in the UK.

“I often wake up scared because when I escaped through Libya they were shooting people in front of me," he said. "It was too much. Sometimes I think too much, get sad, and can’t sleep. But generally I am happy now. I enjoy class, I want to study, learn more and maybe one day become a neurologist.”

This story is part of a Great British Welcome, the UK chapter of No Stranger Place, which was developed and photographed by Aubrey Wade in partnership with UNHCR, profiling refugees and their hosts across Europe. Great British Welcome will be on display at St-Martin-in-the-Fields, London, 16 January - 16 March 2018.