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Words of comfort

WWII survivor pens note to Syrian refugee

Syrian letter
Helga Kissel pens a letter to a 16-year-old Syrian refugee. Image: CARE

Helga Kissel didn’t hesitate to say yes when the disaster relief organization CARE asked her to write a letter of encouragement to a Syrian refugee.

In 1946, at age 16, Kissel and her mother were displaced by the bombing of Berlin and fled to Bavaria.

“When you’re that young, you want to lead an ordinary life. And to be taken away from that overnight was a very frightening experience,” Kissel told PBS NewsHour last week.

Kissel, who is now 87 and lives in Colorado, penned a note to 16-year-old Sajeda, one of 4.8 million people who have escaped Syria since the country’s civil war began five years ago.

“I wrote that I could identify with her, what she was going through. I told her not to give up and be brave,” Kissel said. “Even in horrible circumstances, think of something to look forward to each day.”

CARE reported the heartfelt missive brought tears to the eyes of Sajeda, who now lives with her family in Jordan.

“That would be my reaction if I received a letter,” Kissel said. “That somewhere out there in this great big world there’s a person who thinks of me.”

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