“Inspire and be inspired”: Helen Boyle, founder of Beijing’s Migrant Children’s Foundation

This story was originally published in HaiVision magazine (September 2020)

When Helen Boyle came to Beijing in 2008 for a one-year sabbatical to visit her daughter who was living in Beijing, little did she know that this decision would significantly change her life and that of many others – for the better!

Helen, a British expat, shared some thoughts via email from her native UK about a China-based foundation that she had created. The novel coronavirus outbreak had caught her off guard while she was abroad, as was the case for some foreigners, but she was eager to return to China and resume her work there once the situation returns to normal.

“Having been in education for over 20 years in the UK, I was in Beijing initially for a one-year sabbatical comparing Chinese and UK teaching methods and I came across a migrant school in the north of Beijing,” Helen remembered.

“Seeing the condition of the classrooms in this school in terms of resources, lack of qualified teachers and the school’s environment for the children, I felt that I would like to use my knowledge and experience to make a difference. The things that fascinated me with regard to the school’s children were the enthusiasm and the energy the children displayed. ”

Eventually, Helen decided to resign from her lecturing post back in London and remain in Beijing to help this migrant school. Next to the first school Helen was helping out at, other schools started to request help, which led to people offering their experience to assist these different schools in various ways.

And so the Migrant Children’s Foundation (MCF) was born to assist disadvantaged children of Chinese migrant workers who don’t enjoy the same access to social services in Beijing such as schooling and health care as their local peers do because migrants don’t have Beijing residence permits.

“As there appeared to be a need for this service, I felt it appropriate to start a Foundation and had it registered officially in the UK,” Helen said. While MCF is a registered UK charity, in China, it operates as a non-profit social enterprise. Continue reading