An American general on mission in Basarabia fell in love with the Moldavian style of life and was baptized Orthodox.
Norvel Coots is the chief of the European Regional Medical Command of NATO and has the rank of Brigadier General of the US Army. Arrived in Chisinau, the American was deeply touched by the thousands of institutionalized children and the difficult conditions in which they lived daily. In 2000 he started a project for aiding them, which is carried on still today.
”I saw orphanages that worked according to the Russian system from the former Soviet Union. They were huge, without any electricity or water supply—practically just a place to stay overnight. Though the children had food and education, they equally needed care, affection and other basic things to live better.”
”The wish to help those children become responsible adults and live a normal life came in an instant in 1999 but the effective charity activity started one year later in 2000,” he said in an interview for Romania Libera.
General Coots benefits from support from the Orthodox Church of Moldavia, under the rule of His Eminence Vladimir of Chisinau. The American says that the money came through donations through the Orthodox Church but also from his own pocket.
His experience in the country made him change his life. He was baptized Orthodox and says that he heard the Mother of God telling him to help the children from Moldavia.
”I became Orthodox Christian and my children have Moldavian names, Maximilian and Catalina. I became Orthodox when I went to Moldavia the second time to support the project. I visited an old monastery from Orhei and then I heard the Virgin Mary speaking to me and telling me that I must help those children I had seen. I already live and feel like a Moldavian. I am an active member of that society and together with the Orthodox Church there and with Metropolitan Vladimir I hope to develop many projects. I am a Moldavian Orthodox Christian and though I was baptized in the Russian rite I feel that I am Romanian and Russian Orthodox at the same time!” he said.
As for the unification of Basarabia and Romania, the American general says that Moldavian society is divided.
About a third of the population militates for a reunification of Moldavia with Romania, another third is nostalgic for the USSR and would like to have a strategic partnership with Russia and the other third doesn’t care about anything.
”Ten years ago I felt there was a strong unionist trend, with public pro-Romania demonstrations, but they didn’t materialize and decreased in intensity,” Norvel Coots declared.