Food was the main funding priority at Noel. At times there were nearly 700 mouths to feed. Baby milk formula topped the list, but food insecurity affected all the children, especially the disabled youth who were last on the food list.

Money for food relied heavily on donations so was very basic, mostly rice & beans. Those could fill a child’s stomach but were nutritionally poor. Malnutrition in the younger children was frequently noticeable.

Numerous rainwater tanks were placed around the orphanage and there was a locked water filter system installed that allowed rationed drinking water.

Meat was a rarity, despite the number of animals housed at the Noel. The sale of a cow brought in better funds for bulk buying of rice than a meal of beef that would only feed all children for one day. Christmas was often the only time children ate meat, if there were donations given to buy it. Very sick children would benefit from rabbit or guinea pig meat that was bred on site.

A staggering amount of firewood was needed to keep the cooking stoves burning. Huge log piles were stacked around the Noel, their absence obvious when funds were low.

The arrival of visitors with food was joyously welcomed, particularly if they brought treats like fruit, bread dough, lollipops or Fanta! Selected visitors would be invited to Madam’s quarters for lunch or tea, where the food was considerably more luxurious.

“Memories are the architecture of our identity”