Up to 300,000 Danes live abroad. 20 of them were gathered at the Sheraton Grand Sukhumvit in Bangkok on Wednesday morning the 4th of November. Most of the listeners were Danish with one thing in common; they are all living in Thailand, far away from their home country.
The occasion was the Danish-Thai Chamber of Commerce’s breakfast meeting which hosted two Danish representatives from the organisation Danes Worldwide, Jørn Lillelund and Mai Ellegaard.
“The Danish world is wide open,” as Mai Ellegaard said.
Both representatives know for sure how it is to be living away from Denmark. Jørn Lillelund and his wife Kirsten moved from Denmark in 1965 and are now living in Pattaya. Mai Ellegaard, who just joined the organisation, has been living away for 15 years and is married to a Thai and has a baby boy.
The two representatives explained to the interested listeners how Danes Worldwide works and how a membership can benefit Danish families who are living away from Denmark.
For our children
Mai Ellegaard talked about the important issue for her; Her son. Even though he grows up in Thailand, she wants to give her son the choice of studying in Denmark when he gets older.
“There is no need to close doors for our children. I want him to have all the Danish opportunities,” she said.
The solution for Mai is Danes Worldwide. It can provide the family with Danish home study material, a long distance teacher and a Danish Summer Camp in order for Mai’s son to go straight from Bangkok to a Danish gymnasium.
The other representant, Jørn Lillelund, has two sons. He told how the oldest one, who is living in the US with his American wife is dealing with double citizenship-problems. As it is now, Danes are not allowed to have another citizenship apart from their Danish one, which is a rule totally opposite to all other countries that Denmark is normally compared to. That controversial topic is one of the key issues that Danes Worldwide is fighting to change; and the more members, the stronger the voice.
“The organisation is the only one of its kind which puts emphasises on the Danish government,” he said.
Also, he explained how Danes Worldwide can help with lawyer assistance to secure Danes abroad when married, having property, and other practical problems.
At the moment 40 families in Thailand are members of Danes Abroad and the two representatives hope that the number will grow so that the voices of the Danes in Thailand can be heard.