Join our free and inspiring virtual event, this Thursday! Women’s Agenda will be speaking with Aminata Conteh-Biger, Dr Nisha Khot and Professor Anthony Zwi at 12pm on the 23rd of September. Register here.
Sierra Leone is a very dangerous place to have a baby.
In 2020, United Nations’ figures revealed that 1,360 mothers are dying for every 100,000 live births in the tiny West African nation, while the country also has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world.
The causes of death relate to common conditions that are typically treatable and preventable, including postpartum hemorrhaging, sepsis, and pregnancy-induced hypertension.
But there is hope, and through Women’s Health News, Women’s Agenda is set to bring more stories and opportunities to our readers on what more can be done.
We’re doing this thanks to Aminata Conteh-Biger, who was named the Agenda Setter of the Year at this year’s Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards.
Aminata is the founder of Aminata Maternal Foundation, and the author of Rising Heart, an extraordinary memoir that details her experiences growing up in Sierra Leone. She describes living a “blessed” life that suddenly changed in 1999 when she was captured by rebel forces during the civil war. She was held for a number of months before being released as part of a prisoner exchange. She arrived in Australia as the country’s first Sierra Leonean refugee woman and settled in Sydney.
Later happily married, it was a near-death experience while giving birth to her first daughter in 2012 that inspired Aminata to establish the Foundation. With access to high-quality healthcare, Aminata survived the traumatic childbirth. Back in Sierra Leone, she probably would not have.
That’s why she established The Aminata Maternal Foundation, supporting a women’s and children’s hospital in Freetown through local fundraising efforts that make a massive difference in supporting and saving the lives of mothers and babies.
It’s work that Aminata is pursuing following the transformation she says she experienced upon becoming a mother, which she says put her on “the good fight for mothers, babies, women and refugees.”
But it’s work that obviously can’t be done alone. The more it can be funded, the more lives and women and girls can be saved. The more safe pregnancies that can occur. The more babies and young children can have access to a GP. And the more life-changing Fistula surgeries that can happen.
Indeed, as Aminata Maternal Foundation outlines, just over $2,000 can pay the salary of a midwife for a year. Just $200 can create a safe birth for a mother and her baby. Just $30 enables five children to see a GP on a monthly basis.
As Aminata says: “Motherhood should be a joyful experience. The deaths and injuries are preventable. Every mother deserves a safe delivery. Every baby in the world deserves to be born healthy and in a stable environment, irrespective of their country of birth.”
Through our partnership with Aminata Maternal Foundation, Women’s Health News will be highlighting more stories from mothers, midwives and others in Sierra Leone over the coming year. We will be encouraging readers to make direct donations to AMF and learn more about their work. And we’ll be donating $1 for every new reader subscribing to our weekly Women’s Health New newsletter from the 1st of August until the end of 2021.
Aminata is a survivor who has been through unimaginable horrors and challenges to be where she is today.
But her positivity and fight for life is infectious, as is her desire to bring more people on board to support her mission to give every woman and her baby in Sierra Leone the same chances of surviving childbirth as a woman in Australia.
What can you do?
Check out Aminata Maternal Foundation and make a one-off donation, or better yet a monthly donation if you can to help sustain this work. If you have ideas, events or other fundraising initiatives you might be able to explore with your workplace, you can get in contact.
And save the date! On Tuesday the 23rd of September, as part of Women’s Health Month, we’ll be running a virtual lunchtime session exploring the Joy of Motherhood and giving you the opportunity to learn more about the opportunities for improving childbirth in Sierra Leone and elsewhere. You can register for the event here.