When one mentions woman of the world, you imagine Jezebel, Delilah or some woman so in tune with the world that exudes the material charms and possesses all the lavish belongings of this ethereal world. However, when one is introduced to Teri-Anne Brink, a different definition arises altogether.
Born Teri-Anne Lee and a proud IJ girl, Teri-Anne is most famously remembered as one of the three plus-sized girls in the Guinness Stout advertisements in Singapore and Malaysia. She was also very active in the local theater scene. Teri-Anne met her husband to be, Swedish foreign exchange student, whilst they lived in the same hostel at the National University of Singapore. Five years after they met in 1998, she moved across the world to Sweden to start a family with her husband. What we would consider family has a completely different meaning to the Brinks!
In addition to two beautiful children of their own, Sarah 10 and Liam 7, Teri-Anne and Anders Brink have another three teenage kids to call their sons. Yes, the worldly possession that Teri-Anne has in abundance of is her love for international children. The Brinks have fostered to date, 3 teenage boys from Afghanistan who now call Sweden their home. They have also hosted and housed over 35 other guests in their home in Gothenburg, Sweden. “I don’t believe we were blessed with this big house for just the four of us. I believe we were blessed with this house so that we can bless others in return. Anyone who is in need of a roof over their heads or a warm meal has a place in our home.”
Why does Teri-Anne, the Coordinator at two international pre-schools for children and an drama teacher on weekends, do what she does?
Opening up your lives to others is something that most Singaporean families cannot imagine doing.
It’s her calling she would nonchalantly brush off when questioned. “I believe we need to practice what we believe. People are tired of listening to others preach and tell them what to do. They want to see action.” A Christian who believes in helping the needy and children who need love and care, is something she has in abundance of and is truly practicing.
In her bedroom rests a large red bedspread that her eldest foster son bought for her on a trip whilst visiting his long lost sister in Iran a few months ago. She speaks of it with such pride.
“It really humbles me to think that he thought of us while he was all the way in Iran and bringing it all the way back to Sweden.”
A typical week for Teri-Anne consists of her work duties and being a home-maker, she and her husband prepares all the meals for the family after work and personally shuttles her children to and from school, as well all their extra-curricular activities, something familiar to the typically busy and hectic Singaporean family. On top of that, Teri-Anne teaches acting to children on Saturdays and sings at her church on Sundays. Besides all this, they have to make time to transport her two teenage boys to meetings and interviews with the social services as well as plan social and recreational activities to help them assimilate to their new lives.
After having to rent a van to bring the whole extended family on a road trip to Malmö and Ystad, the extremely thrifty Brinks recently decided to purchase two second hand vehicles when it was evident that their previous vehicles were not able to transport the family adequately.
They now have a family utility vehicle that sits seven and Teri-Anne drives a three door car to her work place in Kållered, a town just outside Gothenburg.
Does Teri-Anne feel sad when the people she cares for leaves the house after they move on with their adult lives? “It is very sad when you lose touch with them when they leave Sweden, but at the end of the day, you focus on the fact that you helped them when they needed it most and you rest in the knowledge that they have moved on to a new chapter on their live.”
Teri-Anne wants to teach her own children that there are those less fortunate and that they should learn to empathize and appreciate what they have. A few years ago, she drove her children down from Sweden to Romania where they volunteered at a church camp for children who were around her children’s ages. “Sarah and Liam didn’t speak a word of Hungarian or Romanian and the children didn’t speak Swedish or English, but they spoke a common language that is in each person- the language of mutual respect and friendship. It was the best week we had and I fell in love with the people and the country”
Teri-Anne with all the love she has for the children of the world, truly defines what a real woman of the world really is.