The story of Brigitta’s Promise begins with the birth of
Brigitta Mikarts in Liepaja, Latvia in 1929.
Brigitta was born into a typical working-class family. Her father was an electrician and volunteer fireman. Brigitta was enjoying a happy childhood with her family in the port city of Liepaja when in 1940 the Soviet Union suddenly invaded and occupied Latvia. The Soviets deported to Siberia 15,000 to 30,000 people who were considered people of influence (government official, businessmen, educators, etc.) When Germany drove the Soviets out just a year later, the Germans were welcomed as liberators. Unfortunately, the Germans behaved almost as badly toward the Latvians as the Soviets had.
It was in 1944 that the defeated German army was forced to retreat to their homeland and many Latvians had to decide whether to stay and live under Soviet rule, or retreat with the Germans with hope of a better future under Allied occupation. As an electrician working at the Liepaja electric generating facility, he received orders from the local German military commander to blow up the local power plant so the Soviets would not be able to use it. He refused to do so, and instead used his position as a volunteer firefighter to take possession of a fire truck which he used to drive to a farm in the country where Brigitta and her sister were living in relative safety. Hiding his children under cover of a tarp, he drove his children back into town where they were able to board one of the last ships leaving Latvia just hours later. The ship’s destination: Germany.
In Germany, Brigitta and her family spent nine-months in a prisoner of war camp where disease ran rampant and medical treatment was virtually nonexistent. Then during the ensuing 3 years, Brigitta worked and attended school while her mother and sister spent a great deal of time recuperating from their illnesses in hospitals. Brigitta spent her free time caring for them at the foot of their beds.
Then finally, after four years of patient waiting, passage to the United States became available. Their new home became Boston, Massachusetts. It was in that Boston Brigitta met Edward Greenwood, a wool merchant. They married in 1955.
By the 1960’s they were spending more and more time at their Texas ranch near Inks Lake. As the years passed, they gradually made this their permanent home.
Almost 50 years passed from the time that Brigitta and her family fled Latvia till the Soviets left and Latvia regained its independence. For those 50 years, she had been cut off from friends and relatives that she had such fond memories of as a child. Brigitta wasted no time when in 1993 travel to Latvia was finally reopened to the West.
Brigitta was an avid gardener creating extensive gardens, which surrounded their house. She had a butterfly garden to remind her of the Latvian spring sky painted by the strokes from the wings of the 2,500 varieties of butterflies which her homeland is known for.
Both Edward and Brigitta were very involved in their Central Texas communities supporting the Hill Country Humane Society and becoming the founders of the Red Barn Fire Department.
Over the years she was active in supporting the Latvian Community, which remained behind the iron curtain. Perhaps her greatest joy was in funding a music school, supporting many churches and orphanages in her Latvian homeland.
After a lifetime of giving of herself, Brigitta Mikarts Greenwood passed away in 2005.
Brigitta’s Promise was founded to carry on Brigitta’s work to provide orphans and the youth of Latvia with better medical care by providing modern medical equipment, facilities and doctors.