Dobri Dobrev collects money for the restoration of monasteries and churches.
This is the story of Elder Dobri
98 year old Dobri Dobrev, a man who lost most of his hearing in the second world war, has traveled 25 kilometers every day for decades from his to the city of Sofia— a trip he made by foot until recently—where he spends the day begging for money.
Though a well recognized fixture around several of the city’s churches, known for his prostrations of thanks to all donors, it was only recently discovered that he has donated every penny he has collected — over 40,000 euros — towards the restoration of decaying bulgarian monasteries and churches and the utility bills of orphanages, living entirely off his monthly state pension of 80 euros and the kindness of others.
He was called a saint, an ascetic hermit , a man who doesn’t take money, an angel, a divine stranger, a traveler from the past, a beggar … Few Bulgarians have not heard of Good Old Dobri Dobrev, many are those who do not have the faintest idea of the true holiness of his cause.
This year Elder Dobri turned 99 and still continues to give selflessly to the others his only treasure – kindness and humanity. And at this advanced age he can be spotted from time to time throughout metropolitan streets in search of generous people to implement his cause.
Elder Dobri has been raising money for decades to restore churches throughout Bulgaria. He is not afraid of cold and bad weather, does not worry that he will remain hungry. He is not angry at people indifferent to his work. The old man radiates kindness and meekness. He is ready to kiss a child’s hand with a smile, dropped a coin into his box , to talk about God with every passerby, to thank for the charity.
But Elder Dobri is not a beggar.
He does not rely on strangers to save his body, but he wants to save their souls. It can’t be called a beggar a man like him who has forgotten his needs and raising money for lofty mission, far from the material benefits.To donate to the church means to bestow on generations, of faith in a godly future to build a benevolent Bulgarians. This is what Elder Dobri thinks he does without expecting gratitude. He respects people and doesn’t keep anything wrong in himself. He sees the world around him is selfish, but he doesn’t get upset but leaves a trail and gives an example with his donations. So many people worship him. The faith of the man who doesn’t take money.
We don’t know much about Elder Dobri’s life. He does not want fame and does not want to divulge details of his daily life. It’s enough for him people to know he is a good person who collects money and donates it to the Bulgarian churches and monasteries. He doesn’t think his personal life is more important than his public affairs. The man with the big heart, was born in 1914 in the village of Bajlovo which is known as the birthplace of another great Bulgarian – Elin Pelin. It is tucked away in the west wooded spurs of Ihtimanska Middle forest.
Elder Dobry has four children and has outlived two of them.
Now one of his daughters takes care of him, although he lives in Sofia. He does not hide his bitterness by false rumors that disinherited his family and has donated the money from the sold property.
That’s why he doesn’t share any details about his family any more. It’s known about his past that his hearing was damaged from a shell which fall nearby. He doesn’t share what prompted him to become a son of a stranger. Maybe the fact that Bajlovo never had an abundance of material wealth or wealthy people. Elin Pelin himself wrote: “It is my native village, it is good but very poor.” Elder, however, made good his birthplace’s rich spiritually.