From Belgium to Sweden

Being a Leo abroad vol. 5 

Hej! My name is Robby Haegdorens and I’m originally a Belgian Leo who moved to Stockholm, Sweden for two years ago. My story is probably a bit different and more challenging than the other stories you’ve been reading so far. Well, let’s begin!

I got my first contacts with the Leo-organization by a Swiss Leo, who I met during a Swedish languagecamp in Uppsala, Sweden, during the summer of 2010. We became friends and he got the idea that if I would join Leo we would have the opportunity to see eachother a few times a year, during international Leo-events. Back then I had never heard about Leo, but I was willing to give it a try and so I joined a local Belgian Leo Club: ‘Overpelt-Midden-Limburg’. I really loved the people and the activities we did. We organized fun-activities and fundraisers for our two social targetgroups: mentally disabled children and a teenage rehabilitation center. It felt really great to give those young people the chance to experience activities that other youngsters often take for granted. At the same moment I started to join my first international events like Lions Europa Forum, Maastricht (NL), 2011 and Leo Europa PreForum, Beveren (B), 2012. In a short time I became a very active Leo!

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When I moved to Stockholm finding a local Leo Club was high up on my priority list, but then came the chock. There was no Leo Club in Stockholm or nearby. The nearest Leo Club was located about 150km away from Stockholm and it was very hard to get in touch with some Swedish Leo’s. After a while I understood why it was so hard to get in contact with local Leo’s: in whole of Sweden there were only about 6 Leo Clubs with a total of maximum 40-45 Leo’s. The most of those Leo’s were also very young, between 15-20 years old and they seemed to be quite unorganized. However there was one exception: two lovely girls from Leo Club Värmland!

The girls from Leo Club Värmland immediately asked me if I wanted to join the Swedish delegation at Leo Europa Forum 2012 in Belgium. I felled honoured and of course I said yes. After that occasion I’ve been part of the Swedish delegation at almost every international Leo-event and I even became a member of their club. It didn’t matter to me that the club was located about 300km from Stockholm! From that moment and still today I am member of two Leo Clubs in two different countries!

Sadly Leo Club Värmland isn’t a happy story either: the club was dying and had only a few members left. We didn’t have many social activities, but although we were one of the most active Swedish Leo’s, certainly towards the rest of Europe. Today the club is still struggling, but it isn’t all darkness. For some months ago we decided to give a start for Sweden huge project. We wanted to work on something we really love: International Leo-events and so we started to build on a weekend what will become ‘Sweekend’ in oktober. Having a social activity was very important to us, cause that’s what’s Leos do, but we also hope we will raise awareness about Leonism in Sweden. More information about Sweekend will be announced soon to our international Leo-friends!

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Thanks to my interest in Sweden I also got the opportunity to develop myself in the Leo-organization. Today I have to function of ILO for MD101 Sweden and I’m very happy I can build further on the International Leo-relations. We are all one big family and friendship is the most valuable thing you obtain by being a Leo. Although I haven’t met many local Leo’s in Sweden, I’m very happy that I met incredibly many friends all over the Europe. My best experiences in Stockholm are the international Leo’s who come to the city for Erasmus or just are here for a short citytrip. So, I’m certainly a happy Leo and I don’t regret the choices I made!

 Author: Robby Haegdorens,
ILO of MD-101 Sweden

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