One of the most enduring images of the Ethiopian famine that shocked the world in 1984 was that of the young International Red Cross nurse who, surrounded by thousands of starving people and with limited supplies, had the terrible task of choosing which children to feed, knowing that those she turned away might not last the night. That nurse was Claire Bertschinger, and those pictures inspired Live Aid, the biggest relief programme the world had ever seen. 'In her was vested the power of life and death,' Bob Geldof said. 'She had become God-like, and that is unbearable for anyone.' Michael Buerk, whose BBC documentary first showed those pictures, persuaded Claire to return to Ethiopia almost twenty years later. For all those years she had been haunted by the terrible choices she had been forced to make. But when she met them again, the survivors welcomed her back with open arms.
Born in Essex, Claire Bertschinger had to overcome dyslexia to qualify as a nurse. When she joined the International Red Cross, she fulfilled a zest for adventure and a passionate vocation for relief work. She has worked with the war-wounded and hostages in Lebanon, with the Mujahidin in Afghanistan, and with victims of civil war and displaced persons in Uganda, Sierra Leone and the Sudan. Working in war zones she often came under fire herself while trying to save the lives of others.