As with many new mothers in Australia, former refugee Aminata Conteh-Biger knew nothing about infant mortality rates before giving birth to her first child in 2012.
Ms Conteh-Biger said that babies should not be dying at such a high rate because most of the causes are preventable.
“If I had been living back in Sierra Leone I would have lost my baby because of the lack of maternal health services available,” Ms Conteh-Biger said.
“If we can empower women and communicate better with them, we can do something about preventing these unnecessary deaths, of both mothers and babies.”
Soon after her experience, Ms Conteh-Biger established the Aminata Maternal Foundation and, together with the University of New South Wales, has been conducting research into the causes of the country’s high infant mortality rate. The foundation will use this research to look for solutions to help improve the health and wellbeing of new mothers and their babies.
Ms Conteh-Biger will tell her personal story of coming to Australia as a refugee from Sierra Leone at SSI’s Speakers’ Series: Inspiring stories of former refugees, this Tuesday evening in Ashfield, Sydney.
She has come a long way since arriving in Australia in 2000 as one of the first refugees to be accepted from Sierra Leone.
Back then she was a quiet woman dealing with the trauma and shame of her experience at the hands of violent and vicious rebel forces that caused her to leave her home country.
“My favourite thing is people but I stopped myself from sharing my story because I felt such shame about what I had endured, and the secrets kept me like a prisoner,” Ms Conteh-Biger said.
Ms Conteh-Biger’s story is one of four that make up the The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe, a play focusing on the deep-seated issues of gender-based violence.
“I share my story now to let other women know that they are not alone and that these things are not their fault. It has been such a release for me,” she said.
See Ms Conteh-Biger join a panel of prominent former refugees who now call Australia home share their stories at:
Speakers’ Series: Inspiring stories of former refugees
When: Tuesday, March 29
Where: SSI Head office, Level 2, 158 Liverpool Road Ashfield, NSW 2131 Australia
Tickets: $15 donation available through Eventbrite