It was a Friday afternoon, and after a conference in Zagreb where we discussed youth topics and how to improve the environment and bring more opportunities, on the way back to Daruvar we had to take with us a special person. It was a monk, but why was it special because it was the only one in the whole Balkans? On the way, we were with Tanja Herceg, the president of Impress youth center in Daruvar, and she gave me a hint about this special person that we would travel with.
This hint was enough to raise hundreds of questions in my mind, to which I couldn’t wait to have answers. Once we met him, the questions were standing on the edge of the tongue and were in a hurry to get out.We stop for him, and he presents himself as Branko, a Croatian man in his 30s. After sitting on our seats and giving him some time to comfort himself, it was time to hear his story.His journey as a monk started way back in time, and he takes us back a few years with his speech, when everything started as a calling that he felt would change his life in a totally different direction.
Branko, back in time, when he started his studies, was one of the best students of civic engineering. But after studying in this field for two years, he decided to change his studies, and not only that, he also decided to change his life direction.So he gave up on his engineering studies and chose to do something totally different; he started studying psychology.Branko mentions that when he started studying psychology, he got involved in Buddhist studies and literature, and then an outside power directed him to Buddhism and he decided to become a Buddhist monk. That’s how the journey starts for the only Buddhist monk in the Balkans.
That life is another way of living, with so many rules and vows that we follow that, for people who have a normal life, it is so interesting to hear them, and much more if you listen to them for the first time.But all these rules have a good intention, says Branko: a mission to bring positivity and happiness into other people’s lives.
“To be a monk is a different life,” says Branko. My mission is to cherish others, and as a Buddhist monk, it is important that we do this as much as we can; we also put other people first, and in this way, when we can bring happiness into others’ lives, we make our own lives better too.
This is how Branko crossed his path with Impress, because Impress has the mission of equality, where every person has opportunities and is treated the same no matter where they come from.Branko says that he comes every year to impress and volunteers there for around one month doing different tasks such as workshops with kids, handcraft work, maintenance, etc. In this way, he brings his contribution and leaves his fingerprints as a volunteer in the community of Daruvar each year.
He adds that this makes him happy to have the opportunity to contribute in this local community, and to do that through Impress is even better because this place for him is like a family roof where he comes back year after year.As Impress tries every day to bring a change in the community of Daruvar, and more than just here, Branko, the only monk of the Balkans, will keep coming back each year to give his contribution for the people of this community and cherish the people as much as it can be.