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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.

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READ MORE ABOUT WHAT WE'VE BEEN UP TO

Wellbeing Magazine

October 21, 2021

Aminata Conteh-Biger – Power for Good Thinkers and Doers – Aminata Conteh-Biger Interview by Shevonne Hunt for Wellbeing Magazine  In this interview, Aminata shared how she found light in the darkness, how she rebuilt a life far from her hometown Sierra Leone. She shared the power of forgiveness in her life and how she found […]

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Ovaries: Talk About Them

August 4, 2021

Camilla and Marc OVARIES. TALK ABOUT THEM. AMINATA CONTEH-BIGER – Author, Mother and Former Refugee Author, mother, and former refugee turned CEO Aminata Conteh-Biger, along with her children Serafina and Matisse to the conversation. Learn about why Aminata is a fierce advocate for women: “It is important for me to support ovarian cancer simply because […]

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Poda-Poda Stories

June 8, 2021

HEALING THROUGH MEMOIR Interviewed by: Kam Insay In her interview with Poda-Poda Stories, Aminata Maternal Foundation’s Founder and CEO, Aminata Conteh-Biger shared her background, what inspired her to write her memoire the     “Rising Heart” and conveyed her thoughts about the commemoration of the “National Day of Reconciliation in Sierra Leone”, Aminata detailed what she had […]

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Sheridan

June 2, 2021

Mother’s Day with Aminata Conteh-Biger Aminata Conteh-Biger and her two beautiful children, Sarafina & Matisse celebrated Mother’s Day 2021 with  Sheridan, one of the biggest luxury homewares, beddings & room décor store in Australia. In the interview, Aminata shared that her difficult experience giving birth to her daughter was the catalyst for creating the Aminata […]

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Beauticate.com

May 27, 2021

AMINATA CONTEH-BIGER, THE ACTIVIST ON HOW TO DIAL UP THE JOY IN YOUR LIFE Interview & story by: Zoe Briggs Aminata sat for an interview with Zoe Briggs for Beauticate.com to talk about how to dial up joy in your life. Aminata shared her life story from her loving family life in Sierra Leone to […]

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The Grace Tales

May 27, 2021

Aminata Conteh-Biger is Inspiring Us to #ChooseToChallenge Interview by: Georgie Abay Aminata Conteh-Biger, Founder & CEO of Aminata Maternal Foundation sat in an interview with Georgie Abay of The Grace Tales to answer questions related to this year’s International Women’s Day theme #ChooseToChallenge. Aminata is the perfect embodiment of how challenges bring change. Aminata shared […]

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Let us virtually travel to Aberdeen Women's Centre during our 2019 visit - our CEO @aminata_conteh_biger with the Dream Team as pictured above

Here in Sydney as we find ourselves in an extended lockdown due to COVID-19, we can appreciate the access that Australians have to quality healthcare, warmth and shelter provided in our humble abodes (and the ability to stay connected via Zoom calls during periods of reduced face-to-face contact!).

In celebrating the 2021 United Nations World Population Day today, at the Aminata Maternal Foundation we are reflecting on how the rest of the world is managing with compromised health care systems. The area of sexual and reproductive health in particular is impacted as many countries are experiencing concern over changing fertility rates. United Nations Population Fund (formerly the United Nations Fund for Population Activities [UNFPA]), emphasises that educational, economic and political empowerment of women enables autonomy and control over choices regarding their body.

Did you know, only 55% of women have the power to make their own decisions about their bodies? The current pandemic has exacerbated gender-based inequities, notably in Sierra Leone as the teenage pregnancy rate continues to rise. During the Ebola crisis, teenage pregnancies in Sierra Leone saw a 66% increase and it is anticipated that another surge will result from the COVID-19 crisis. To combat this our Dream Team project collaborates with the Aberdeen Women's Centre located in Freetown, Sierra Leone to provide support to re-integrate teenage mothers into their communities post-birth.

References for further reading🌏:
https://www.un.org/en/observances/world-population-day

https://aminatamaternalfoundation.org/mission/our-projects/the-dream-team/
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@breakingglasspod New Episode Alert ⚡ Aminata Conteh Biger (@aminata_conteh_biger) grew up in a well-off family in the capital of Sierra Leone where her father prioritized education and opportunities for his six daughters. She had a happy and protected childhood until a truly devastating civil war broke out in her country resulting in the deaths of more than 50,000 individuals. She herself was kidnapped for seven months before fleeing as a refugee to Australia. Aminata’s own story of survival doesn’t end with the war. After rebuilding her life in Sydney, Aminata endured the traumatic birth of her first child which ignited a passion for maternal health. The founder of Aminata Maternal Foundation (@aminatafoundation), Aminata has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and changed thousands of women's lives in Sierra Leone, which has some of the worst child and maternal mortality rates in the world.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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#AminataContehBiger #SierraLeone #AminataMaternalFoundation #RisingHeartBook #MaternalMortality #InfantMortality #Healthcare #HumanRights #WestAfrica #WomenSupportingWomen #LiftEachOtherUp #ElevateWomensStories #GenderEquity #BreakingGlass #WomenLeadingTheWay #BreakingGlassPodcast #EvokeMedia #Womanhood #GlassBreakers #GlassCeiling #Global #WomensVoices #WomensStories #BreakingGlassCeilings #WomenEmpowerment
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NEW RELEASE ✨Episode 3️⃣
Aminata Conteh- Biger is a woman, is a voice, is a presence, that every human needs to know. She is sunshine , epitomising strength and transforming any darkness she encounters into light. She has endured things that no person, that no woman should ever have to endure, and consequently, her presence in society illustrates that love and truth and shining pure hearts filled with goodness can and do and forever will, conquer. She is love in human form; a beacon of hope for us all.

@aminata_conteh_biger @gennachanelle

📸 @sarahfountainphotography @onelovefilmsbondi @zoltanfecso @jenna_pratt_ @innkeeperstudios @fujifilmx_au

🌟 In an effort to build connection and unify, @gennachanelle shares the voices of our earth angels - who are each deeply committed to healing our world. 🌟

🔗 https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/the-loving-podcast/id1564380858
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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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