Irish charity founder Christina Noble opened her heart to homeless and unloved children living on the streets of Vietnam. She could do this since in her early life she had herself experienced poverty, hunger, tragedy, and disappointments. Noble is the true story of the development of her empathy and the results of her compassionate service.

Christina (Gloria Cramer Curtis) is growing up in Ireland during 1940s as one of six children. After her mother dies, her alcoholic father (Liam Cunningham) proves unequal to the task of looking after her and her siblings. He loses custody of them, and Christina (Sarah Green) is sent to an orphanage run by strict nuns. While working in a laundry, she is raped and gets pregnant. Even though she wants to keep the baby, the nuns have him adopted. Christina eventually marries a Greek Cypriot (David Mumeni) who beats her. Clearly she has to make changes in her life.

If you want to discover who you are, do justice engaging fully in order to change things.
— Meister Eckhart

During the 1970s, she starts having vivid dreams about the suffering children of Vietnam. By the 1980s, the strong-willed survivor decides to see what lies behind the allure of a war-torn country halfway across the world.

Christina (Deirdre O'Kane) arrives in Ho Chi Minh City and checks into a seedy hotel. She is shocked by the large number of orphaned and abandoned children on the streets. They are hungry for food and attention. Her heart goes out to two little homeless girls, and she breaks the rules of the hotel by bringing them to her room for a hot bath and food.

Christina learns that the Vietnamese are so caught up in their own families and obligations that they just ignore the plight of these children. They derisively call them bui doi, "the dust of life." Asserting that an Irish gutter is the same as a Vietnamese gutter, Christina asserts, "I was that."

Determined to take care of these rejected kids, Christina has to convince the local police and immigration officials to let her stay in the country. She is given three months to get the funding she needs to renovate a section of an orphanage run by Madame Linh (Nhu Quynh Nguyen). With all the energy and passion she can muster, Christina harasses various sponsors including an oil company executive (Brendan Coyle). Eventually her efforts pay off and she is able to provide for the street children in remarkable ways.

Noble depicts the early days of what has become the Christina Noble Children's Foundation in Vietnam and Mongolia. More than 100 projects have provided care for some 700,000 street children. This film is a story of empathy in action.

The one hand is this hand
There is no other hand
There is no other face
Than the one right in front of you
There is no other time
Than now!
There is no other place
Than here
There is no other act of love
Than this small act
There is no stranger
No hero
Apart from this one
There is no other.
— Ellen Birx in Selfless Love