TEENAGERS in Hong Kong are invited to join hands with Christina Noble - known as 'Mama Tina' by street children in Vietnam - to help improve the lives of millions of unfortunate homeless children in the region. Ms Noble, born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1944, said she was brought to Vietnam by a dream she had some 20 years ago. 'The dream told me to work with the street children of this poor, jangled, disease-ridden country,' she says in her autobiography, Bridge Across My Sorrows. One year after landing in Ho Chi Minh City in 1989, Ms Noble was able to set up a centre for abandoned and malnourished children. The centre has since helped over 40,000 children. Later in 1991, The Christina Noble Children's Foundation, which is dedicated to serving children in need, was established. Among the many children she has helped, Ms Noble highlighted the plight of a 12-year-old girl suffering from a spinal disease. The immense pain and inability to move had wiped the smile from the girl's face. 'I told her: 'Hey, the only way you can win is to say you're going to win, then nobody can stop you. You can win inside yourself. You must say, I'll have a future, I want to live, I'm going to go to university. What do you want to be? You make that happen'.' The girl responded with a big smile. The doctors were thrilled and said it was the first time she had smiled in ages. Ms Noble said financial restraints have prevented this young patient from getting the care she needs. 'She's been to hell and she's so poor. She needs chemotherapy. You cannot have it if you have no money. The hospital cannot afford it. It's a choice of life and death. I believe she has the right to have a chance to live. So I need help.' That explains why - despite her reluctance to leave the children under her care in Vietnam - Ms Noble still travels from country to country trying to raise funds for the foundation. 'Children deserve basic human rights. They come to this earth and they automatically inherit their basic human rights. The earth belongs to everybody. Sometimes people think the world belongs to them, but no, it belongs to everybody. We don't want children to become crippled adults who hurt others because they have been hurt before.' Ms Noble is currently visiting the territory to raise Hong Kong teenagers' awareness of their less fortunate counterparts in other countries in the region. It is also her wish to extend her work into China, where the number of abandoned female infants is rising every day as many Chinese parents still prefer boys to girls. Liz Thomas, a teacher at Sha Tin College who led a group of Hong Kong students to serve in the centre in Vietnam last year, now works voluntarily for the Foundation's Hong Kong office. Students of the school will begin a massive fund-raising drive in September and are seeking support from students throughout the territory. A 24-hour 'shelterthon' will be run during which students will build their own shelters on the school premises. 'The idea of shelter-building is to identify with the street children. The ideal thing would be to get every school in Hong Kong involved and every young person to do this on the same day,' Ms Thomas explained. 'Our school's target is to raise $2 million, but if more schools take part, I'm sure we can get more than that.' Students who are interested in joining this fund-raising activity should call Liz Thomas on 2699 1811, extension 20, or fax her on 2696 3505.