Faith Hope and Love

A person’s will to change the world

When Lennart Eriksson talks about Star of Hope and the collaboration with Focus Business School (FBS) in Romania, he talks with joy and enthusiasm. He believes in the people and he believes in change. But above all, he has made the people believe in a change.

Lennart Eriksson is co-founder and development manager for the aid organization Hoppets Stjärna (Star of Hope), which works to create better conditions for children around the world. For over 25 years, he has been fighting for Romanian children with disabilities to give them a better life with their families.

– People said, ”Lennart, stop dreaming. It’s impossible.” But I replied ”I will not stop fighting until we’ve changed this situation!”.

There has been a change of mind and the view of people with disabilities has changed in Romania. Star of Hope has now become the leader in offering alternatives to orphans and institutions. In 2012, Lennart received Romania’s highest civilian award, The Romania Star. Romania’s president at the time, Traian Băsescu, awarded Lennart a Knight’s title of the fifth and highest degree.

Now, Lennart Eriksson has begun a project to create a brighter future for the Romans. The situation in Romania made him feel a need to do something that makes the Romans look different to their country, their lives and their situation. Part of that work is about creating more jobs and that led him to FBS.

– We realized that it is difficult to hire people in other countries, especially Roma. I tried to find a method of job creation in Romania and ended up in a conversation with Marco Strömberg. FBS is just what Romania needs! Right now, the entire nation suffers and a lot of business executives and entrepreneurs have moved from Romania because of corruption, he says.

The seventh commandment

That was when Lennart and Marco came across the subject of corruption as everything fell into place.

– The seventh commandment reads: Thou shalt not steal. This is the argument I use when I speak for FBS and why education is so important. If Romania would only follow that principle, corruption would not exist.

”We had 40 participants and the strange thing was that several came there with the attitude that they only had time to stay for a few hours. But when they heard what the course was about, they all completed the entire education.” Lennart Eriksson says

Romania’s future

Expectations were low but the reactions were very good. Lennart explains how the participants after the education said, ”We have lived without seeing a future for our country. We wanted to emigrate. But after completing this education we have renewed hope that there is an opportunity for our nation.”

”We have had contact with the participants, and nearly 20 courses are expected to start. Now we are building a resource pool for the course launches.

This summer, some of the courses courses will start, but of course, Lennart had rather seen that they had already started. There is an eagerness with him revealing how much he believes in the people of Romania.

”We will keep the courses in both cities and Romani villages and everyone who wants to learn business and entrepreneurship is welcome. Whether it’s Romanian or Romani. Romanians need to form companies and create job opportunities. Romanis as people are talented, intelligent people who can accomplish good things.

He also tells us that the beggars who come to Sweden are the strongest. Those who have had the strength and courage to go to Sweden have also left their children alone with grandparents in Romania so that people have an opportunity to stay and take care of their family.

The co-operation between Star of Hope and FBS improves the situation for Romanis in Sweden and Romania. It gives people new prospects and builds on faith in God, the love of other people, and a hope for a better and richer life.

Text: Sophia Utterbäck