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HOUSE MANAGER - AMINATA'S STORY

I have sat here for ages wondering where to begin Aminata’s story, the house manager of AMF’s Accommodation and Training Hostel. I want to do her story justice.  Given the odds she has overcome, but particularly given that ‘something’ about her, doing her justice will be hard, impossible maybe. She’s at peace. The peace of someone who has made it over the finish line after years of training for a marathon.  Now with the steely determination of a winner, she is going to train others to run their race. Part fairy godmother, part RBG/ Malala/Oprah/ Michelle Obama... insert your hero.

Aminata grew up in one of Freetown’s many slums - slums described by the World Bank as a blight on humanity and widely regarded as the worst places in the world to live. At 31, Aminata has reached life expectancy for Freetown’s slum residents. But that will not be her fate.

She was a top student.  She had to fight hard to be allowed to go to school but with good grades, her father allowed it. Technically 2019 marks the first year of compulsory primary school here - one of the last countries in the world where education has not been compulsory. The rush to enrol overwhelmed schools bursting them beyond capacity. They had to close to new enrolments and it’s estimated 20% of students missed out. But for Aminata and her family, sending her to school was optional.

AMINATA AND AMINATA

To gloss over 7 years of the story- she had her baby, fought tooth and nail against her husband’s wishes to return to school (eventually the recalcitrant would be student was sent back to her family), left school top of her class and earned her place in a local university, where she studied home economics, again top student.

Now in her mid-twenties, Aminata saw a poster advertising one scholarship to study a masters degree in Beijing. She said she knew she had every qualification and would make a fine candidate. Got through to the final interviews, and then the last 2 candidates and was confident she had it in the bag. She knew the other candidate and was surprised he was even there.

When Aminata learnt she had not been selected,  she marched straight to the Ministry of Education, armed with her university results and demanded to see the Minister. ‘Do you have an appointment?’  ‘No, and I don’t need one, I have my results!’. ‘You need an appointment.’ ‘No I’ll wait till he’ll see me.’ And so Aminata took up her position outside the Minister of Education’s office. She sat for days...

Eventually, someone she knew- her old uni lecturer turned up to see the Minister, and he had an appointment. He had always been impressed by Amii so put in a good word for her and the Minister agreed to see her. Turns out he thought she had been the winning student (someone knew someone with the other candidate and he had been slipped in over her), so off to Beijing she went for 3 years.

While I was so surprised by the unlikeliness of her story, why should I be? Do I really think that any young women wouldn’t want to fight, to do anything possible to improve her situation? And now she wants to teach other young women from the poorest families in Sierra Leone new skills, to have confidence, to work hard, be independent and to contribute back to society. Together with Aberdeen Women’s Centre and The Aminata Maternal Foundation, Aminata is running the pilot programme in our Training and Accommodation Hostel, and from what we have seen she is achieving everything she has set out to do - no surprises there though.

I wanted to tell Aminata’s story to illustrate the talent that we see everywhere here, so that our team and supporters can have every confidence that the work we are all doing, as volunteers, as donors, as knitters or service providers are achieving something very real in Sierra Leone. There’s such a long way to go, but we have taken the first steps. AMF is making a difference to lives in this beautiful country.

Penny Gerstle,

Chair

AMINATA HOUSE MANAGER

 

Polygamy is common in Sierra Leone and Aminata’s father had many wives. When Amii was 15, her mother died and she had to take over the mothering role. School was out of the question. Now that she was a ‘mother’ she needed to be married. Feeding her would become someone else’s responsibility. A ‘suitable’ 40 something husband was found.

By 16 she was married, middle-aged by local standards, pregnant, malnourished and living in grinding poverty in the most disadvantaged place on earth, little education and no prospect of escape... except for her spark.

Contrast the Aminata in the photo above - the Aminata we met. At 31 she’s fluent in Mandarin, has 2 university degrees, including a Masters in Hospitality and Tourism from a Beijing University, she’s financially independent and unlike an estimated 65% of graduates here she has a well paying full-time job which she loves. How?

It’s a long story, but the bit I love, the bit most illustrative of her determination, is the story of her scholarship to Beijing, the only international scholarship on offer that year.

Screen-Shot-2019-05-28-at-12.35.15-pm-761x1024

READ MORE ABOUT WHAT WE'VE BEEN UP TO

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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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