I won’t lie to you. I’m not very proud of some things. I’ve made some bad decisions. I haven’t always a nice person. I wasn’t honest and I acted like a beast. Now I’m a sinner trying to see the light.
But this is not a story of redemption. This is the story of how I try to be a good dad.
My son Vito suffers from a wide array of health conditions. He’s autistic. He’s often in a lot of pain. His immune system is very weak. And the health system in Croatia is subpar when it comes to providing care for children with multiple health conditions.
But Vito’s also a happy seven-year-old boy with a heroic mother. I failed both of them, especially my little boy early on. Back then, I guess I only cared about myself and my personal success.
But my son changed me. I’m not even sure how, or when. He broke me down and helped me reinvent myself as a better man. He saved my life. Today I am capable of loving more than just myself. This is a magnificent achievement for a sinner like me.
My professional career was comprised of ambitious and creative projects, all which fell apart at some point. I was capable of creating entire companies by myself. The problem was, I was also capable of destroying entire companies by myself.
At one point or another, I held all those fancy titles: CEO, CFO, COO, General Manager…but today I want just one title next to my name –Dad. I just want to be a dad, plain and simple.
In 2015, I started several projects aimed at improving the lives of children with disabilities. I managed to do some great things and I’m grateful to the people who helped me along the way. In late 2015, I received a prestigious humanitarian award called the “Pride of Croatia” for my contributions to society. I became famous overnight, winning many other prizes and making media appearances.
I thought I was going to change the world.
I was wrong.
I’ve made so many enemies along the way. Our corrupted politicians wanted me to join their ranks. When I refused, they used the media to pressure me. They wanted me out of the game because I inspired people to demand change and believe that change was possible. That wasn’t even my intention; I just wanted to create a better life for my son. But our story was everywhere, and people found it inspirational.
Unfortunately, this inspiration wouldn’t go unpunished.
I made a mistake. I had suggested that the system didn’t work and many children suffered as a result. I became an enemy of the state. I found myself battling not just the system, but the fake humanitarian organizations funded by the system. I made enemies by refusing to align myself with any political party. The truly unfortunate part was that these parties also owned the media, which then targeted me for months.
After many failed attempts, my opponents pressed criminal charges against me. They accused me of stealing money from sick children for self-profit.
Interestingly, nobody cared about the things I did during the darkest moments in my life. Fortunately, I never faced any formal charges back then, because some of them would have stuck. It’s only when I tried to live an honest life and fight for what was right that I became a criminal.
I figure this is how my life will be from now on: I’ll fight for change and they’ll do their best to try to stop me. To be honest, I would rather stop sometimes. But then again, my son needs change. I need to save him. I need to save the kids. Sometimes it feels I’m their only hope. This might be the end of life as I’ve always known it, but I just can’t give up.
My country lacks acceptance and understanding of special needs children. Our politicians are corrupt and only care about their own well-being. Our democracy is young, arising from a civil war that ended 25 years ago. Our country is small, just a little under 4 million citizens. We don’t occupy too much space on a globe, but our children are as important as those from anywhere else in the world. I believe that every child on this earth should be treated with decency and respect. This is why I’m building the City of Angels.
My dream is to take abandoned castles and villages and convert them into homes for families of disabled children. I want to build places where special children can dream. I want them to be free, to enjoy the outdoors and befriend animals. I want them to dream things that we adult no longer dream.
I’m fully aware that I’m overambitious. As a religious person, I believe that some help comes along the way. My job now is to start digging. I don’t want to be the king of the castle, as that title belongs the kids. I hope to be a janitor, a person who provides love and friendship.
That is my dream. I’ll never let anyone take it from me.