timeline

born c. 1960

Claire Bertschinger was a Red Cross nurse in 1984, when a TV reporter filmed her in the grim task of choosing which of the hundreds of starving Ethiopian children would receive one of the limited relief meals that day ~ and by default, which children would be left to die. That image inspired one of the biggest relief efforts of all time. Back in England, singer Bob Geldof cried when he saw it ~ then brought together a who's who of musicians to record the single "Do They Know it's Christmas?" Simultaneous "Live Aid" concerts in London + Philly raised $286 million for hunger relief. Claire, now a lecturer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, will never forget how it felt when planes started dropping relief supplies. "I thought, 'Wow,'" she said. "'We're saved.'"

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Claire Bertschinger (13)

"They must think that I am like a god who, with a nod of the head, can decide if they are in or out. You see, I have to select 50-70 children from over 1,200 who are all under nourished and sick in one way or another."

to British Red Cross | december 1984

"The pressure is unbearable. Hell! What a job."

to British Red Cross | december 1984

"I'm a quite eccentric person in certain ways...and it was very difficult for people to understand me. So I decided just to blossom and to be and to enjoy life."

Never at Rest | 2005

"There is nothing sweeter, gentler or softer than water. But water has the power to move mountains."

Moving Mountains | july 2005

"Increasingly, I have become convinced of the centrality of education in making and sustaining any improvements in the developing world."

appointment to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire | january 2010

"The empowerment of women, educationally and economically, is a major weapon in the fight against child mortality in the developing world."

appointment to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire | january 2010

"To me, I was just doing a job that I enjoyed and was good at."

Claire Bertschinger ~ healthcare and peace ?worker | 2011

"...there are no winners in war, ever."

Claire Bertschinger ~ healthcare and peace worker | august 2011

"I finally understood that I did not have to work on the front line to create value."

Claire Bertschinger ~ healthcare and peace worker | august 2011

"We didn't choose the ones who were the worst because we knew they would die within a few days. I chose the ones with a spark of life in their eyes."

Nurse who inspired Live Aid when she appeared in television news reports about Ethiopian famine reveals she couldn't wait for Michael Buerk to leave | march 2014

"Listen to people. Find out why they're doing what they're doing before you start telling them what to do."

Claire Berschinger: Desert Island Discs | march 2014

"I eventually became a nurse by working hard at what I was good at ~ caring and compassion. Of course to pass exams I had to work twice as hard as anyone else, but I got there in the end."

Claire Bertschinger: Desert Island Discs | march 2014

"I don't live just to eat and sleep and get money to have a nice house ... I have to create value ~ I have to do something in life."

Dame Claire Bertschinger | march 2014
  • Quotabelle profile
  • Claire Bertschinger

curated with care by Kathleen Murray {september 2014}