Says famine survivor
HER face lit up by a huge smile, Birhan Woldu proudly shows off her tiny daughter.
It marks the start of a new chapter in what is a remarkable story of the tenacity of the human spirit and survival against the odds.
For aged three, Birhan's ghostly image was seen staring from the TV screen at the 1985 Live Aid concert as her life ebbed away.
The starving toddler became one of the heartbreaking symbols of the Ethiopian famine.
But miraculously, she pulled through — and this week, at the age of 30, gave birth to her first child.
On a crackly phone line from her neat home in Mekele, high in the Tigray mountains in northern Ethiopia, Birhan said last night: "I wept tears of joy when she was born.
"My little daughter has made my life complete. I have been through so much. In the dark times I never believed I would find such joy in my life."
And she and husband Birhanu, a student, knew exactly who to name their baby after — Red Cross medic Dame Claire Bertschinger, whose humanity and compassion inspired Bob Geldof to organise Band Aid.
Birhan continued: "I have always looked up to Claire for what she did helping the children of Ethiopia. She was so strong and caring so we named our little girl after her."
Our exclusive pictures show delighted Birhan gently cradling Claire, who was born on Monday weighing 7lb 7oz.
Dame Claire said yesterday: "I had tears in my eyes when I heard Birhan name her little girl after me. It's such an honour.
"I know Birhan will be a wonderful mother.
"She's such a strong woman who has already achieved so much by helping and inspiring so many people and getting a degree.
"This is just the beginning for her."
Last night Band Aid guru Sir Bob Geldof described little Claire's arrival as "fab news".
He joked: "Why isn't she called Roberta, Bobbity or Bandaidia?"
Bob added: "Congrats to Mum and little Claire."
Birhan helped inspire a later generation when she famously appeared at Live 8 in 2005 clasping Queen of Pop Madonna's hand in triumph.
The Sun had flown Birhan 3,700 miles from her home in the Ethiopian Highlands to London for the concert. The previous year she had inspired this newspaper to come up with the idea of re-recording the Band Aid single Do They Know It's Christmas?
As a result of Live 8, world leaders agreed to boost aid for developing countries by £31billion.
Beforehand they had written off £23billion of debt owed by the world's 18 poorest countries.
With drought and starvation again stalking the Horn of Africa, Birhan's message of hope is every bit as important today.
Her voice breaking with emotion, Dame Claire added: "People always ask me, 'Is the money we raise really making a difference?'
"Well, just look at Birhan and her beautiful little daughter Claire. The children I was treating are now having children of their own.
"It's such a wonderful feeling. It shows we did make a difference, we are making a difference and should never give up."
Dame Claire, now a lecturer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, was famously seen in Michael Buerk's haunting 1984 BBC report that moved Geldof to start Band Aid.
Her soul-destroying task was to walk along lines of starving youngsters and pick those she felt had the strongest chance of survival.
She had rations to feed 300 children a day — yet thousands were begging for food.
When an RAF Hercules arrived laden with food and medicines days later Claire had no idea it was due to the shockwaves caused by her appearance in Buerk's film.
Birhan has never forgotten the nurses at the clinic who aided her fight for life.
She works with the UN's World Food Programme as a Food Monitor Assistant. As part of her job she travels to remote villages to check if children are malnourished or suffering from disease.
Together with Birhan, I have written a book charting her traumatic but ultimately uplifting story.
All author's profits from the book, Feed The World: Birhan Woldu And Live Aid, will be split equally between Birhan and the charity that supported her, the African Children's Educational Trust.
The small, Leicester-based charity provides education for vulnerable Ethiopian children such as Birhan.
The new mum will never forget the horrors of 1984 when drought and a brutal Marxist regime conspired to produce one of the worst humanitarian disasters of the last or any other century.
With their crops withered and their herds dying, the family sought help for desperately ill Birhan at a clinic on the outskirts of Mekele.
It was here she was filmed by a Canadian TV crew 15 minutes from death. The harrowing images were later screened at 1985's Live Aid.
Birhan lost her mother Alemetsehay and five-year-old sister Azmera in the "Great Hunger".
Birhan's family and thousands of other starving farmers were then herded on to planes at gunpoint by Government soldiers and taken to resettlement camps in the lowlands where rainfall was more plentiful.
But the camps were riddled with disease so Birhan's father Woldu hoisted her and little sister Silas on his shoulders and carried them the 800 miles home. It took two months and three weeks before they arrived back in their dusty village.
The next day — July 13, 1985 — Live Aid roared into life, and Birhan's haunting image appeared on screens above the crowd.
Feed The World: Birhan Woldu And Live Aid, by Oliver Harvey, is published by New Holland Publishers, £9.99. Sun readers can get 25 per cent off the book and free P&P — visit newhollandpublishers.com or call quoting promotional code Birhan Sun.