98-year-old homeless Bulgarian man donates thousands to restore churches

Elder Dobri as he is known in Sofia, Bulgaria begs to help fund church repairs. (Screengrab/YouTube)

An elderly man with a beard sits on the street corner hunched over, in a picture recently posted online.

In another photo the man sits on a small bed in a shack and in another, he bends over to kiss a boy's hand. The description says the man is Dobri Dobrev, a 98-year-old who travels 25 kilometers each day and begs on the streets of Sofia, Bulgaria. It says he lost most of his hearing during WWII.

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For Bulgarians, this isn't news.

Dobrev is a fixture on the streets of Sofia, where many know his name but few, apparently, know that Dobrev isn't begging for himself. The captions on the photos explain his inspiring generosity.

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.

A scene from a film shows a devout Elder Dobri, as he is called, praying in a temple he helped to fund with his donations.

Elder Dobri's fame could be spreading beyond his home country as bloggers share his story. One social media user described living in Sofia, where Elder Dobri would ride the tram into the city every day.

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"He never begs for money, people just put money in his little wooden box and he shows them respect," the user wrote.

Though he's nearly a century old, it seems Dobry persists in his cause, day after day.