About Aminata Conteh-Biger
Aminata Conteh-Biger is an Australian author and inspriational talker who is the Founder and CEO of a non-profit organisation, The Aminata Maternal Foundation.
Aminata was born in Sierra Leone, growing up in Freetown. Following her kidnap, imprisonment and subsequent release by rebel soldiers during the 11-year civil war, Aminata became one of the first Sierra Leonean refugees to be settled in Australia.
She went on to become a wife and mother, alongside working in the fashion industry and as a performer in the acclaimed Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe stage production.
In 2014, Aminata started The Aminata Maternal Foundation in order to improve the health and wellbeing of women and children in Sierra Leone.
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This documentary is about the story of Aminata’s time when she was captured by rebel soldiers during the civil war in Sierra Leone.
Aminata started the Foundation after her near-death experience while giving birth to her first-born, her daughter Sarafina. Sarafina suffered shoulder dystocia and “got stuck” in the birth canal. It took several doctors, and it was only due to the access to high-quality healthcare, safe equipment and the doctors in the room that both of them survived.
It was during this event that Aminata realised her mission, because if she was in Sierra Leone, both of them would have died. Today though, Sarafina and Aminata are both alive and very well. In comparison, Aminata has witnessed women in Sierra Leone bleed to death, and suffer life-long and life-limiting effects of childbirth complications.
Now, her mission, thanks to this Cataclystic event, is to end maternal and infant mortality and improve the birth outcomes for women in Sierra Leone.
In 1999, Sierra Leone teenager Aminata was kidnapped from her father’s arms during the brutal eleven-year civil war in her country. Violence, amputation and the rape of young women and girls were all weapons deployed in the bloody conflict; in this environment, Aminata was held captive for months.
On release, the UNHCR recognised that Aminata’s captors still posed a serious threat to her safety. Still a teenager, she was put on a plane, flown to Australia – a land she had barely heard of – and told to start again
Refusing to let her trauma define her, she eventually built a life for herself, but a near-death experience during the birth of her first child turned her attention to the women of Sierra Leone, where mothers are 200 times more likely to die having a baby than in Australia. So she set up the Aminata Maternal Foundation, and went back to help.
‘Aminata knocked me out at our first meeting in Sydney some years ago…courage shining through as she spoke of some of her experiences in Sierra Leone. Her story, Rising Heart, will never leave you; searing, powerful, disturbing, hopeful.’ – The Hon. Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO
‘The spirit of Aminata’s story will stay with you long after you finish reading. Rising Heart has refuelled my sense of perspective and purpose. Aminata’s courage in sharing this intensely personal story is rewarded with the power of inspiring hope. Thank you, Aminata, for sharing.’ – Yael Stone, actor and activist
”I have personally pledged to donate a portion of the royalties of Rising Heart to the Aminata Maternal Foundation. This means that when you buy a copy for yourself – and perhaps another to give to a loved one – you are doing much more than purchasing a book: you are for example, potentially saving a newborn’s life, or directly contributing to the foundation’s cause, helping us to safely deliver Sierra Leonean babies and to support and empower Sierra Leonean girls and women.”