“I believe my sufferings have empowered me to develop the strongest soul. Because of that, I am determined to live my life for others whose lives are seared with scars. I am grateful to God for having a second chance in life and It’s so important for me to speak on behalf of children, refugees and women’s rights because I know and feel their pain in my heart”

 Aminata Conteh-Biger

black and white image of Aminata Conteh-Biger laughing

Photo Matthew Jensen

In 1999, Sierra Leone was in the midst of a brutal civil war where mindless violence, vicious amputation and the rape of young enslaved women were the everyday weapons of bloody conflict.

It was also where rebel soldiers snatched the young Aminata Conteh-Biger from her father’s arms, then held her captive for months.

After she was released, the UNHCR recognised that her captors still posed a serious threat to her safety. So, still a teenager, she was put on a plane and flown to Australia to start afresh as a refugee in a land she knew nothing about.

It is here that she has proudly built a life, while never allowing her trauma to define her. Yet it was a near-death experience she suffered during the birth of her child that turned her attention to the women of Sierra Leone – where they are 200 times more likely to die while having a baby than in Australia.

So she set up the Aminata Maternal Foundation, then returned to the land of her birth to help. This is her story.