A KIND-HEARTED expat has given a refugee the gift of a home this Christmas.

Briton Tamara Essex, 57, has welcomed a Palestinian man into her house in Colmenar after his office on the West Bank was destroyed.

AT EL TORCAL: Tamara and Yousef
AT EL TORCAL: Tamara and Yousef

Former UN accountant Yousef Alkhouli, 35, applied for asylum last year and has become the first official refugee to register on the Axarquia town’s padron.

Tamara, a charity consultant, became friends with the father-of-one after they met at a Malaga language exchange group in March.

Former UN accountant Yousef, who speaks five languages, found asylum in Madrid – but his wife and baby daughter are still in Palestine.

He spent four months in a ‘holding centre’ before moving to a Malaga centre – where he met Essex.

“I have promised Yousef six months, though I’d be unlikely to chuck him out at the end of that,” Tamara told the Olive Press.

“The key issue is getting his wife and baby daughter here.”

Tamara, who moved to Spain from Dorset three years ago, helped him register for residency and get a work permit.

“Yousef brought his bags, his strange washing-up habits, his humour and his excellent cooking skills to Colmenar,” she explained.

“I have learned a thousand things from him and my life is far, far richer for knowing him.”


  1. A heart-warming story, and kudos to Tamara for inviting a refugee into her home. Very glad to see that her life is far richer for doing this. All my good wishes go to those like Tamara who have seen people in need (ie refugees) and done their bit to lend a helping hand. A fitting story for the festive season.

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