With his long, scraggly white beard and tattered clothes, Dobri Dobrev would by all appearances seem to be your garden-variety beggar, the kind of homeless person found in any major city who appeals to the kindness of strangers for subsistence.
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But what no one knew until just a few years ago is that Dobri — who turns 103 in July — has eschewed materialism and even the basic comforts of the modern world, donating all the money he receives from begging to help others in need.
That’s right, every single penny (or lev, Bulgaria’s currency).
Because his own desires are few, “Saint Dobry” is able to live off a war pension that amounts to a meager $100 each month. He donates his gains from the streets to orphanages, churches and monasteries, including more than $20,000 to the Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky in Bulgaria’s capital city of Sofia.
He now lives in an extension to the Saints Cyril and Methodius church — the recipient of nearly $6,000 of his street earnings — in his hometown of Bailovo.
For years, Grandpa Dobri, as he is also known, traversed the 15 miles from his home to Sofia by foot, but now relies on public transportation.
While he’s mum about much of his personal life, it is known that he lost much of his hearing in a bombing during World War II. He married in 1940 and had four children — two of whom he’s outlived, and one of whom cares for him– according to the web site dedicated to this man who’s revered worldwide for his absolute selflessness.
The Pokrov Foundation is a Bulgarian non-profit group dedicated to furthering the aims of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. In 2000, the organization released the film “Mite,”in which Dobri says: “The good will is just and true. Everything in it is good. We must not lie, nor steal, nor commit adultery. We must love each other as God loves us.â€
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