In 1999, Sierra Leone teenager Aminata Conteh-Biger 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
'A powerful read that will make you cry at the injustice and brutality of our world - especially the treatment of women and girls - but then shed tears of admiration and hope. Aminata reminds us of the power of an individual to make a difference. She is an inspirational woman who has brought about extraordinary change, and is a shining example of why we must all be good global citizens. What a beautiful Australian story.'
Natasha Stott Despoja AO
'A gripping story of courage, survival and redemption.'
Wendy McCarthy AO
'An incredible story of hope and transformation, one that we can all learn from.'
Emma Isaacs, Founder and Global CEO, Business Chicks
'Women's reproductive health is one of the most important factors in determining their quality of life and that of their children. Aminata's extraordinary efforts in her country of origin will make a life-changing difference to the mothers and children of Sierra Leone.'
Professor Kerryn Phelps AM
'I have met many refugees the world over, and the courage of Aminata's personal account as a survivor of unimaginable cruelty is both disturbing and inspiring. Her unwavering belief in human kindness in the face of so much adversity is what makes her a role model for so many women and girls.'
Louise Aubin, UNHCR Representative
'Aminata not only gives an important voice to her own intensely personal story but also to the many forgotten women and girls caught up in war and conflict today. She is a compelling advocate for the rights of these women and also for the work of the UN Refugee Agency who supports them.'
Naomi Steer, National Director Australia for UNHCR
"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."