Maintaining health & hygiene was a constant challenge. Hunger was prevalent with food donations being relied on and many children were undernourished.

Infants shared cots & mattresses, bottles and germs. Keeping up with nappy changing was a struggle & many wore nappies made from ripped up cloth. Eventually reusable nappies were introduced, alleviating some of the nappy shortages.

Mains water supplies weren’t always reliable and there was always piles of washing up to be done and hands washed. Children had their hair cut off to reduce the spread of nits. Older children were expected to conduct their own cleanliness, but soap wasn’t always available and toilet roll shortages meant rationing, sometimes just one sheet each.

Daily medical issues kept the Noel nurses busy and there were frequent trips to nearby Gisenyi hospital. Many medical organisations supported the orphanage, holding health checks, sending dentists and opthalmists or making prosthetics. Donations of medicines and equipment helped staff cope with a wide range of childhood ailments as well as cerebral palsy, polio, hernias & albinism.

Older youth invented ways to improve their physical health and were encouraged to set an example with litter disposal. When visitors were expected there was usually a flurry of cleaning activity and tidying up!

“Memories are the architecture of our identity”