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26th April 2019

Speaking to the mothers at the clinic

We began the day in the maternity ward, talking to the new mothers, hearing their stories and doting on their babies. One mother had been at the Aberdeen Women’s Centre for 3 months. She had safely delivered her 4th baby via c-section last week. She lives far from Freetown. 12 months ago AWC found her during an outreach visit, suffering quietly with the indignity of fistula. The surgeons at AWC repaired it and advised against further pregnancies. A few months later, when AWC heard of her new pregnancy, they brought her to live here, to ensure the care her fragile uterus would need. She returned to her village yesterday. Mother and baby doing well.

Another mother was still in the labour ward. She had arrived yesterday, unconscious, vomiting blood, fitting, sky-high blood pressure - eclampsia. AWC was able to provide an emergency c-section and save her life and that of her baby. She was sitting up feeding her little girl as we were with her, apparently none the worse for wear.

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WMD AWC STAFF
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World Malaria Day

We joined the AWC team together with employees from a local company who were sponsoring the work and headed to some of Freetown’s many slums. Our first destination was beachside. A fire had destroyed the shanties last year so people are sleeping on the sand. A narrow beach, It was jam-packed. Many of them were fisher-people, with buckets full of enormous, vicious-looking barracuda. Colourful, old wooden fishing boats crammed the water's edge,  women with over-laden buckets on their heads wandering around hoping for a sale, children with their hands out looking for lollies, the area Chief, proud of his people but worried for their welfare... while in some ways the scene was idyllic (golden beaches, palm trees etc), the reality is anything but. Armed with megaphones, the team wandered through the community, advising people to visit the local hospital if they had a temperature, to make sure they slept under mozzie nets and the take their medicine if diagnosed. They called for pregnant women to come forward to be tested on the spot - a finger prick, blood droplet onto something that looked like a pregnancy test and the result in a few seconds. In many cases, anti-malerials had to be provided with advice to attend AWC. There were throngs of people sticking their fingers through our bus window as we tried to drive away, all desperate to be treated, but the tests are expensive and the drugs in limited supply. We had to ration our testing to pregnant women. How we wanted to help everyone...

Speaking to the community

We chatted with the team while driving to the next community. One young woman had a seven-year-old daughter. When I asked her if she would like another, she stiffened and said there was no way on this earth that she would ever give birth again in Sierra Leone. Last week she and her friends had a party to celebrate her friends imminent birth. She showed me photos of them - beautifully dressed, makeup, dancing, laughing, they could have been in Sydney. This friend was lucky, she could afford private care in Freetown’s best hospital. The next day she was dead. No one knew why, no autopsies here, no one even appeared surprised and certainly, this young friend told us, no one cared enough to investigate. This was the second of her friends to suffer the same fate this year. Now I understood her determination never to give birth again. She implored us to do what we could to strengthen maternal health here.

At the AWC Training Hostel

Our afternoon was uplifting, moving, so hopeful. We spent 5 hours in the new AWC accommodation hostel that the Aminata Maternal Foundation is funding. Our own Aminata (of the 10 staff and girls there yesterday, 5 were called Aminata - the Sue Smith equivalent haha) was delirious with happiness and pride. I wish I could capture the joy on her face and in her heart as we spent time there. The team are ironing out the wrinkles with a pilot team of 5 young women and their babies. All are thoroughly vetted to ensure they will benefit to the maximum from our programme. They all come from the slums of Freetown and are victims of abuse, neglect or have no family. Desperately poor, when they arrived at the hostel some were too weak from malnutrition to talk and interact, much less to care for their babies. They were without hope, with no prospect of a job.

5 months into their stay and they greeted us with loving enthusiasm, teenage delight, giggles, laughter, immaculately dressed in their hospitality training outfit- white shirt, black jeans, black and white striped shoes, a beautiful 1 year old on each hip - all dressed in their best outfits, starched, bows in hair. I can’t tell you the effort they had gone to - I think we were their first guests to test their new skills on - remember these young women have never lived in a house before - didn’t know what a kitchen was... It will be quicker if I list their efforts:

  • a welcome song and speech in English
  • a spread of at least 8 dishes they had shopped for, cooked
  • waiter service
  • a beautiful, enormous plaque to mark our efforts for them
  • a special song they had written for us, about Aminata
  • hand decorated shoes for each of us
  • a display of their cake making skills
  • a letter, written by the Mums on behalf of their children telling us what our support means to them

Overwhelming! AMF’s efforts meant everything to them, and they wanted all our team and supporters back in Australia to share in their deepest gratitude. We wish you all could have been there.

We would, of course, be deeply concerned if after 6 months with us they were returned to their communities to suffer as before. Ann Gloag from Freedom from Fistula is trying everything to ensure that doesn’t happen. Now that they have domestic and service skills, the AWC team are working with local and international hotels, restaurants and child care centres to place them in jobs and ensure their self-sufficiency. AWC will be the middle-person to protect the women from future exploration.

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I could go on and on about our afternoon. I haven’t even begun to tell you about Aminata the house manager - that will be in tomorrow’s update. Suffice it to say, I have rarely seen such determination, such extraordinary achievement, and all from a self-made young woman from the slums, forced into teenage marriage and motherhood to a much older man... if the world was full of more women like the house mother Aminata what a world it would be.

Penny Gerstle

Chair of the Aminata Maternal Foundation

 

READ MORE ABOUT WHAT WE'VE BEEN UP TO

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AMF PARTNERS WITH BETTER THAT We are proud to be a good cause partner with new online shopping platform Betterthat.com. Better That are on a mission to make shopping better by giving back to good causes with every purchase – hint hint, us! Get into the habit of purchasing through their site and they’ll donate […]

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AGENDA SETTER OF THE YEAR AWARD 2021

May 5, 2021

AGENDA SETTER OF THE YEAR AWARD 2021 Aminata Conteh-Biger with Pip Marlow, CEO of Salesforce Australia and New Zealand We at Aminata Maternal Foundation are incredibly proud of our CEO and Founder, Aminata Conteh-Biger for winning the prestigious “Agenda Setter of the Year Award” at “The 8th Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards 2021” held last night, […]

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Chrismas Appeal

December 13, 2020

Mabinty’s story is one of despair and hope. Mabinty was 16 years old and in Junior Secondary School when she was living with her sister and husband. She was brought to Freetown by her elder sister at the age of seven so that she could access education in the hope of a brighter future. One […]

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We’ve done it!

November 26, 2020

And just like that, we’re finished! Over two weeks, hundreds of us have walked thousands of kilometres as we came together a community to walk side by side with mums and babies living in poverty in Sierra Leone. My heart is full thinking of Jakia who inspired this event. It is amazing to think that […]

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You’ve set the pace

November 2, 2020

We can’t believe how much support we’ve already received for our #AMFWalkingChallenge2020. So many people have been willing to help us fundraise for the much needed maternal health support during the COVID-19 crisis in Sierra Leone. I am so touched by everyone’s words of kindness and open hearts to a cause that is so close […]

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Aminata on BBC World Service

October 13, 2020

“A mother and a child dying, that never made sense to me. How can women still continue  to struggle for something that is preventable? No mother or their baby should die in childbirth just because of poverty” – Aminata Conteh-Biger In an in-depth interview with BBC Outlook, Aminata talks about her childhood in Sierra Leone, […]

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The former sex slave saving lives in Sierra Leone

She survived months as a sex slave and escaped to Australia as a refugee. Aminata Conteh-Biger can't change the past but now she's ready to help the future of her homeland, which has become the world's most dangerous place to give birth. (An SBS Production) CC #DaughterofSierraLeone #DatelineSBS #Documentary

*** SBS Dateline’s Daughter of Sierra Leone has won a New York Festivals International TV and film silver award in the Health/Medical Information category. ***

A must-see documentary. To watch the full-length episode, copy this link into your computer’s internet browser: https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/881784387906/dateline-s2017-ep4-daughter-of-sierra-leone
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We are very excited to announce the five contest winners of the poignant, humanistic memoir 'Rising Heart' & we wish you all a great read: @littlebisous @kirsty_brooke @uglyflatlaysx @lifewlinda @karthika.menon 💖💖💐

Congrats to everyone who participated! Let us express our gratitude, heartfelt thanks and appreciation to every one of you for the part you played and continue to play in fulfilling Aminata's vision and our organisation’s mission. Each day we are getting closer to our goals and by purchasing a copy of the book, you contribute to improving maternal and newborn healthcare in Sierra Leone.

We invite our winners to write to us by private and direct message on Instagram to provide us with their full name and delivery details x
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This is Alice’s hospital bag. Alice is a 30 year-old single mother living in poverty in Freetown. She came to the Aberdeen Women’s Centre to give birth. When she arrived she found out that she was expecting twins which made her labour more far more dangerous and complicated. Thankfully, Alice was able to safely deliver her two beautiful twins. However, we want to draw your attention to Alice’s hospital bag. She simply arrived with a plastic bag. Inside the bag was a single blanket, a plate and a shirt.
In Sierra Leone, 1 in 8 mother’s die from child birth. In Australia, this figure is 1 in 8700. This devastating statistic highlights the reality for so many mother’s and babies in Sierra Leone. With your help, we can start to put an end to infant mortality in Sierra Leone. Motherhood should mark a beginning, not an end.
#amfmumsofmay #aminatamaternalfoundation #mothersday #hospitalbag #sierraleone
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𝐆𝐈𝐕𝐄𝐀𝐖𝐀𝐘 𝐓𝐈𝐌𝐄!

For the month of May, we celebrate all mums 🤍 no matter what form they take, in all their care and nurturing of others or any form of terrestrial life.

We are giving away up to 5 copies of Rising Heart as a prize for both the winners and the winning tagged account(s).

To enter, tag anyone who is a supportive light in your life, like, share and follow our account @aminatafoundation.

Enter as many times as you like on each account’s posts this month. 1 tag per comment, 1 comment per entry.

Winners will be drawn and notified after Mother’s Day. This competition is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by Instagram. If you get contacted that you are the winner of this competition, please check to make sure the account contacting you is legitimate before giving out any personal details.

𝐏𝐚𝐧 𝐌𝐚𝐜𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐚𝐧 𝐀𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐚 𝐱 𝐀𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐚 𝐌𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐅𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 @aminata_conteh_biger #AMFMumsofMay #mothersday #mumsofaustralia #motherhood #abcmyphoto

( Australian Book Designer: Debra Billson )
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What would you pack in your hospital bag checklist?💐

As Mother's Day sneaks up on us this year, here at the Aminata Maternal Foundation we continue to spread awareness for mothers and babies, whilst simultaneously working to improve access to healthcare in Sierra Leone.🧡

Stay tuned to see our Mother's Day Campaign #AMFMumsofMay #aminatamaternalfoundation @aminata_conteh_biger #mothersday #hospitalbag #pregnancy #sierraleone #pregnancychecklist #newmums #humanrights #healthcare
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From Refugee to CEO: How to Disrupt with Humility

In 1999 whilst I was completing my final year of high-school in South Africa, she was being Kidnapped by rebel forces in West Africa.

Two African women.

Same continent.

Two very different realities.

If you missed Fridays LIVE Radio Show: Business, Sex & Being Human on @bondiradio.

And you’re seeking to access UNLIMITED JOY, get present to what it TRULY takes to build and grow a purpose-driven enterprise that literally SAVES LIVES....

Watch the #replay here. 40 minutes of pure gold.

Join me, your host, Leigh Jane Woodgate, Business Growth Advisor, Leadership Mentor & Inategy Business School, as I interview one of literally THE most extraordinary women that I have ever met in my life!

@Aminata_conteh_biger of the @aminatafoundation

Aminata is an author, activist, speaker, performer, and former refugee turned Founder & CEO of the Aminata Maternal Foundation.

And on 29 April 2021, at the Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards, she was awarded Agenda Setter of the Year Award, for her work establishing the Aminata Maternal Foundation, saving the lives of hundreds of mothers and babies in her home country, Sierra Leone. The judges noted her “ethos and integrity, and how she personifies joy.” They spoke about her going out by herself from Australia, harnessing a deeply traumatic past for the “benefit of wider society and to make the lives of women in her home country safer.”

I hope that this episode of the show moves you as deeply as it moved me, and ignites you to do whatever is required for you to stand more deeply in your power so that you can impact humanity and the planet on a greater scale.

And if you haven’t read her book “Rising Heart” GET IT NOW! [link in the comments below]

ONE WOMAN'S ASTONISHING JOURNEY FROM UNIMAGINABLE TRAUMA TO BECOMING A POWER FOR GOOD!

The Hon. Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO writes ‘'The best and the worst of our shared humanity...breathtaking and heartbreaking.'

With love and excitement for your imminent next level of growth.

Listen to your inner whispers and take courageous action beautiful human.

The world needs you!

Leigh

(#Replay: https://www.instagram.com/tv/COUptw2AhR4/)
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