Rising Heart by Aminata Conteh-Biger
This is an astonishing memoir, a story of a courageous woman starting a new life after terrible trauma.
In 1999, Sierra Leone was in the midst of a brutal civil war when teenager Aminata was snatched from her family and her beloved father and held captive for many months. She witnessed mindless violence, amputation and death, and she was raped repeatedly by one of the rebel leaders, Daramy, who was obsessed with her. She was thankfully rescued, and the authorities recognised that Daramy still posed a threat to her safety, so still in her teens, she boarded a plane to start a new life in Australia.
Aminata determinedly built a new life for herself, and she refused to let her experiences define her. She studied and worked as a model before working in retail. She made friends and eventually found her soulmate in the man she married. But then a near-death experience of giving birth to their first child caused her to think that if she was still in Sierra Leone, she and her daughter most certainly would have died. So she set up the Aminata Maternal Foundation to help the women of Sierra Leone.
I cried many times while reading this book. First, from the horror of her experiences, but then from my admiration for her courage, inner joy and resolve to live her life on her terms. Her goodness and love of others shine through, her faith in God doesn’t waiver, her courage against all the odds is astounding. This is an extraordinary story of an extraordinary woman.
Thank you, Aminata, for sharing both the brutality and the beauty from your life. You are a role model for so many women and girls facing adversity.
Reviewer: Karen McMillan