Letters to Syrian Refugees

By Doug Gritzmacher

Denver Director of Photography & Cinematographer

Denver cinematographer with Helga Kissell at her home in Colorado Springs.

This week sound recordist Rich Jacobs and I worked on a touching film shoot in Colorado Springs for Voice of America that is garnering a lot of press from all the major news outlets.


Standing next to me in this photo is 87-year-old Helga Kissell. She wrote a letter to a 16-year-old Syrian refugee. “I know it is always difficult to adjust in a different country. I feel very deeply for you,” Kissell wrote. “There will be better times ahead.”


Kissell is no stranger to what it is like to be a refugee. She grew up in Germany during WWII. After her town was bombed by the Allies, her family escaped with only the clothes on their backs. A short time later, an American soldier she had met and befriended earlier while working at a photo printing shop sent her and her family a care package containing food and clothes.


That man, Leo, is now her husband (and is standing on the right). They kept in touch via letters for three years before Kissell was able to fly to the United States and marry Leo.


CARE, the same service Leo used to send packages to Helga is providing that same service to Syrian refugees.

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