The Changemakers: Christina Noble on why you’re never too old to change and shape the world around you
In this month’s issue of IMAGE magazine, we talked to the Irish women who are making a big impact in their respective field.
Founder of The Christina Noble Children’s Foundation
“The only way is up,” sings Christina Noble, otherwise known as Mama Tina to more than one million children she has helped through her foundation. It’s her motto, she tells me, one that she sings to herself and many children in her quest to give them back their freedom. Since 1980, Christina has dedicated her life to giving life to others.
Photo credit: Barry McCall
Abandoned to an orphanage at the age of ten after her mother died, subsequently homeless and abused, she refused to allow her past to have any power over her future. “You cannot make changes if you are bitter and angry. It’ll never be for the right reasons. You can sell a coat, but you can never sell your heart and soul. If you do, it’s over. I managed to hang on to mine, and I’ve learnt forgiveness.”
What might surprise us about you?
“My father taught me to box when I was young. I wouldn’t hurt a fly, really, but I did knock a guy out with my right hook once. Let’s just say he was an unsavoury character that was threatening one of my children, so he deserved it.”
Christina is not just the conduit, but also the catalyst and the caregiver in changing impoverished children’s lives in Vietnam and Mongolia. Her aim is to give them back their dignity and respect and help them realise their potential. “I remember one little girl always playing in the sand. I asked her why, and she said she wanted to know where it came from. She is now on a scholarship at Beijing University studying geology. She is just one of so many children we’ve helped.”
There must be countless “proud mama” moments, and yet Christina never really stops to consider how far she’s come. “I don’t think about walking into a war zone or the enormity of what we’ve achieved,” she laughs. “I just get on with it with as much love, compassion (and singing) as I can.” It’s her youthful outlook on life, along with her kindness and determination that has led Christina to become one of the world’s best-loved fairy godmothers.
What have you learnt most about yourself since embarking on this journey?
“That I’m always learning. I discover something new about myself every day, and it’s wonderful.”
Still blazing a trail at 73, Christina proves you’re never too old to change and shape the world around you.