The natural mother of Angelina Jolie‘s adopted Ethiopian daughter Zahara has made a heartfelt plea to the superstar actress telling her: ‘Please just let me talk to my daughter’.
Poverty stricken Mentewab Dawit Lebiso told Daily Mail Online she is desperate to be part of her 12-year-old daughter’s life – and called for Jolie to get custody of her daughter in the bitter split with Brad Pitt.
She dreams of one day meeting the girl she gave up as a tiny infant – but said she would settle for the chance to simply hear her voice.
‘I just want her to know that I am alive and here and long to be able to speak with her. I do not want my daughter back but just to be in contact with her and be able to call her up and talk with her,’ said Mentewab, who ekes out a living in Ethiopia.
Desperate: Mentewab Dawit Lebiso is Zahara Jolie Pitt’s biological mother, having given birth to her in Ethiopia after falling pregnant when she was attacked. Mentewab has never had any other children and now desperately wants some contact with Zahara
Bid for reunion: Mentewab, pictured left above, gave birth to Zahara, pictured above right with Angelina Jolie in 2007, in Ethiopia but the baby was put up for adoption as Mentewab was so sick. She is desperately disappointed she has no contact with Zahara
Poverty: The simple home in central Ethiopia where Mentewab makes a living renting out two rooms, which brings in less than £15 a month
Mother’s longing: Mentewab told MailOnline that while she had lost Zahara as a baby, she still felt grief. ‘I miss her all the time. I think about her every day and long to hear her voice or see her face’
New life: The life that Zahara Jolie Pitt would have lived in Ethiopia is far removed from the luxury of Los Angeles and life with Hollywood star and humanitarian campaigner Angelina Jolie. Her biological mother is still living in desperate poverty
Mentewab is the first to admit that the Jolie-Pitts have given her daughter everything she could wish for, adding: ‘Angelina has been more of a mother to her than I have ever been. She has been with her since she was a baby, but that does not mean I do not miss her.
But she adds: ‘I miss her all the time. I think about her every day and long to hear her voice or see her face.I know when she has a birthday but I am sad because I can’t celebrate it with her. I would so much want to celebrate with her on her birthday and other special days.
‘I long to be able to have regular contact with her.’
Daily Mail Online tracked down Mentewab to a town in central Ethiopia far from the capital Addis Ababa and tourist attractions of the African country.
During an exclusive interview Mentewab looked close to tears as she mentioned her daughter’s name and talks of her hopes of one day being reunited with her.
Even now, 12 years after giving up her only child for adoption the pain as she talks about Zahara is clear in her face.
Lonely birthdays: Mentewab told MailOnline she knows every time Zahara’s birthday passes but cannot mark it because she wants to celebrate with her
Modest: The tiny home where Mentewab lives and rents out two rooms is her only source of income. The 31-year-old says she has not received any letters, pictures or money from Angelina since the adoption 12 years ago
Rural: This muddy road where cows graze freely is most likely where Zahara Jolie Pitt would have lived if she had not been adopted by star Angelina. Now it is where her birth mother Mentewab ekes out an existence
Poverty: Mentewab lives off this humble road in Ethiopia. She does not have any photos of her daughter on display as she does not want others in the town to know she gave away her daughter – even if it was to one of Hollywood’s most famous female stars
Brutal rape: One night, when her grandmother was away on business, a stranger broke in and subjected her to a vicious attack. When, a few months later, it became impossible to hide the fact that Mentewab was pregnant, her relatives disowned her
Poor: Mentewab lives in a poor Ethiopian town but occasionally follows her daughter’s progress online and receives news from her brother in America
Struggle: Mentewab initially kept her daughter, whom she had named Yemasrech, which means ‘good news’, but struggled to make enough money then ran away, leaving her with her own mother Almaz Elfneh (left)
No conflict: Mentewab insists she is not asking for her daughter back and praises Angelina Jolie as a good mother. She says simply: ‘I would like Zahara to know she has a mother who loves her as much as Angelina’
She lowers her eyes, and speaking through an interpreter, says softly in her native, Amharic tongue : ‘I would like Zahara to know she has a mother who loves her as much as Angelina.
‘I know her life is with Angelina is in another country and she speaks another language than me.
‘She has a life that I could never give her, but I would still like to have some contact. I would like to see her face. She has grown into a beautiful woman and I am so proud of her. My heart bursts because I am so proud.
‘We all die sometime and before I die I would like her to know about me and that she has family here in Ethiopia.
‘I would ask Angelina to let me speak with her. I do not think it is too much to ask.’
The 31-year-old has had no contact with Zahara since she was taken to America by Jolie when she was just six months old in 2005.
Mentewab has not received a card or letter from Jolie in past 12 years. Contact with birth mother is rare for adopted children growing up, however, they have a right to try and trace birth parents when they reach 18.
And despite her and Pitt’s combined wealth estimated at over $500m Mentewab has not received any financial help to escape the dire poverty that sees her surviving on less than pds 15 a month and living in a one room home with no running water or toilet.
‘No money has ever been offered and that does not worry or disappoint me,’ said Mentewab.
Megastar Jolie was told that Zahara was orphaned when she adopted her in 2005, and had lost her parents through Aids.
It is thought that she had no idea that Mentewab was alive until 2007, when she gave her first interview.
Maternal: Angelina Jolie was clearly besotted with her newly adopted daughter Zahara as she planted a kiss on her head just after her arrival in the United States in 2005
‘Aids orphan’: Angelina Jolie revealed she had been told Zahara’s mother had died of Aids when she adopted her in 2005, and said she was also suffering from dehydration and malnutrition. In fact her mother was still alive
New family: Angelina Jolie first adopted son Maddox from Cambodia, in 2002, and later daughter Zahara from Ethiopia, in 2005
Life of riches: Zahara, pictured left above with Angelina Jolie and sister Shiloh, right in 2015, was born into grinding poverty in Ethiopia but adopted by Jolie after her mother fell ill after the birth. Zahara’s birth mother, who gets by on less than £15 a week, wants to be able to talk to her