MBL Founder Xinran’s message on International Children’s Day

Homes and childhoods live on in our memories, where there’re the warmth and cold of the four seasons, the fragrance of grass and plants, and unforgettable moments both bitter and sweet.

My friend, where is your homeland? Do you have an “unforgettable moment” from your childhood memories, carved into your bones?

I come from China, and my childhood memories from Beijing. But Beijing has changed so much now that my childhood memories are nothing but dreamlike fantasies, elusive as smoke.

In my childhood reminiscences, I don’t remember Beijing’s biting cold of minus 20 degrees Celsius. What I do recall are bingtanghulu candies held proudly in the hands of children wrapped up in great bundles of clothes, and the joy felt by young and old on the frozen lake of Beihai Park.

I don’t remember the mosquitoes that tormented me during Beijing summers. But I remember the cicadas’s endless singing at noon. To this day, I still think how wonderful it would be if we could understand what the insects are saying… 

Springs and summers spent in the Taoran Pavilion taught me my first lessons in colour and season. The stories of many elders have sprouted there with the growth of flowers and plants. Times have passed and circumstances have changed but these stories still whisper to me.

That was my childhood before the age of seven and a half. Those are the memories of Beijing planted in my childhood.

And later? The Cultural Revolution blackened the joy of my childhood and the warmth of my home. Today, after fifty-four years, I can still recall the horrors from that dark and turbulent period and the struggles of those cold days and nights when I felt like an orphan. Only when I started to read again at age twelve did I regain the warmth and energy needed for survival, from the stories and characters in books.

War and poverty today still plague children the world overbringing fear into their childhoods and homes. We may not be able to halt the raging conflicts or eradicate poverty, but each of us can send the gift of a book. In doing so, we can give children energy and spirit through stories and pictures, and plant dreams for their futures.

Thank you for supporting the Books for Kids project from Mothers’ Bridge of Love. Let’s work together as one to give more children a beautiful childhood.

I wish you all Happy Children’s Day on June 1st.

(A big thank you to our wonderful volunteers and translators for their beautiful translation of Xinran’s message: William Spence, Thecla Loh/Yihan Liu, and Dr. Yukteshwar Kumar. )




Chinese Paper Boats containing ‘secret messages’ to unknown mothers at the Essex Book Festival

Do you remember when we were young, and would make little origami boats? Not long ago, MBL organised for a group of Chinese children to make 1000 boats containing written messages to unknown mothers. With the help of our volunteers, these were brought to the UK, and the Essex Book Festival.

All hand-made by Chinese children, these paper boats are extra special because they contain ‘secret messages’ to unknown mothers.

On 31 March – Mother’s Day in the UK – MBL co-founder Xinran visited the Essex Book Festival to celebrate with Festival organisers and friends. These 1000 boats were transformed into a ’Mothership Installation’ by local artist Elaine Tribley at the Civic Theatre in Chelmsford. Festival organiser Ros Green said that MBL’s boats had touched many visitors. The Mothership really captured people’s attention, with many hoping the Installation could stay on for at least another month!

Ros also proposed collecting boats from other parts of the world, and exhibiting in other places. Because in this digital age, it is even more important for family affection to be conveyed through art and culture.

We are very grateful to the MBL China Volunteer Centre, the MBL Suzhou team, and MBL’s three international branches for organising both the making of the boats and bringing them to the UK. We thank them for their hard work and dedication!




3月31日,2019英国母亲节之日,母爱桥创建者之一的薛欣然女士赶往Essex Book Fair,与当地文化团体庆祝母亲节。

母爱桥加盟埃塞克斯艺术节的“1000只载着心语游向世界母亲的小船”被艺术家Elaine Tribley设计成“亲子艺术流”展示在Chelmsford城市剧场。

据埃塞克斯艺术节的组织者Ros Green介绍,来自母爱桥中国孩子们的“1000只载着心语游向世界母亲的小船”感动了众多来访者。人们络绎不绝,赞叹留影,并希望继续保留母爱桥的“1000只载着心语游向世界母亲的小船组成的亲子艺术流”展,至少再多展示一个月!

Ros Green 还提议征集更多国家儿童的“献给世界母亲的心语小船”,并且在更多的地区巡展。因为在数字化的时代中,家庭亲情的交流更需文明艺术的传载和传承。


MBL wishes you a very happy Mother’s day!

Happy Mother’s Day! Mother’s Day falls on different days depending on the countries where it’s celebrated. In the UK,  it’s 31 March this year.

Since its birth, MBL has been reaching out to Chinese children in all corners of the world: those who have been adopted by Western families, those who have been raised abroad, and those living in China. As of today, MBL has built 27 international libraries for underprivileged children in rural China, and has helped many adoptive families and adopted children understand and explore China. Among MBL’s volunteers and supporters, many are mothers. We’re forever grateful for their love and commitment.

Mothers, you deserve the best. Thank you and Happy Mother’s Day. 母亲节快乐!

(A big thank you to our talented volunteer, Yifeng, for designing the lovely holiday card.)


Happy Women’s Day & MBL founder Xinran’s new Book, The Promise, a story of love and loss in modern China, is out now!

Happy Women’s Day!

We’re excited to announce that MBL’s founder Xinran’s new book, The Promise, has recently been released. Since her 2002 international best-seller, The Good Women of China, Xinran has established herself as a dedicated chronicler of the political and social changes that have impacted the Chinese people, especially women, in modern China. The Promise (I.B. Tauris), translated from the Chinese by William Spence, is yet another persuasive and absorbing exploration of her homeland.

In The Promise, Xinran, through a series of interviews, tells the story of the Hans over four generations. At the start of the twentieth century in China, the Hans were married in an elaborate ceremony before they were even born. While their future was arranged by their families, this couple had much to be grateful for. Not only did they come from similar backgrounds – and as such were recognized as a good match – they also had a shared passion in their deep love of ancient Chinese poetry. They went on to have nine children and chose colours portrayed in some of their favourite poems as nicknames for them – Red, Cyan, Orange, Yellow, Green, Ginger, Violet, Blue and Rainbow. Fate, and the sweep of twentieth century history would later divide these children into three groups: three went to America or Hong Kong to protect the family line from the communists; three were married to revolutionaries having come of age as China turned red; while three suffered tragic early deaths.

With her trademark wisdom and warmth, Xinran describes the lives and loves of this extraordinary family over four generations. What emerges is not only a moving, beautifully-written and engaging story of four people and their lives, but a crucial portrait of social change in China. Xinran begins with the magic and tragedy of one young couples wedding night in 1950, and goes on to tell personal experiences of loss, grief and hardship through China’s extraordinary century. In doing so she tells a bigger story – how traditional Chinese values have been slowly eroded by the tide of modernity and how their outlooks on love, and the choices they’ve made in life, have been all been affected by the great upheavals of Chinese history.

A spell-binding and magical narrative, this is the story of modern China through the people who lived through it, and the story of their love and loss.

Select Reviews

“A brilliant storyteller” – Hilary Spurling

“Much has been written about political, social, and economic changes in China since before the 1949, but few authors apart from Lynn Pan—who explored the common notion that love originated in the West before it arrived in China—have taken an intimate look the Chinese women’s private lives spanning four generations.” – Asian Review of Books

“Filled with poignancy, insights, and revelations, this is an ideal book for anyone curious about life in China—and surely, in this day and age, that means all of us.” – Randallwrites.wordpress.com Book Review

Kirkus Reviews

Asian Review of Books 

The Spectator 



Upcoming Events 

Esses Book Festival 

Daunt Books ( Xinran talks to Paul French) 

BBC Radio 3 

The List (Xinran discusses the taboo topics of birth, marriage and death.)

An adopted Nanjing Girl visits her old home at Nanjing Children’s Home

Today is MBL’s 15th birthday. We have some wonderful news to share.

On 12th, August, 2019, accompanied by Julie and Flora, two MBL volunteers, several special guests visited the Nanjing Children’s Home. One of them was Xiaoqiu, a Chinese girl, who had lived here before she was adopted by a Dutch family.

Not long after Xiaoqiu was born, she was found abandoned near the Children’s Hospital. A kind stranger sent her to the Children’s Home. In 2006, a Dutch family adopted her with the help of MBL and several other local agencies. They treated her like their own and gave her a happy childhood.

Xiaoqiu was very excited about her return to her old “home”. She thanked the staff who had looked after her, and said, “I also want to thank my biological parents and my adoptive parents. I cherish my life in the Netherlands and everything I have right now.”

Xiaoqiu’s adoptive mother said that Xiaoqiu is currently attending a Dutch high school and has many hobbies, such as theatrical performance, handcraft and travel. She also enjoys reading, dancing, gymnastics and music. She excels at school, but finds math a bit challenging. Overall, she enjoys school and hopes to go to a good university someday. She takes Chinese lessons once a week and loves it.

Xiaoqiu’s adoptive mother also said that they are very happy to have raised Xiaoqiu. “But she misses her biological parents,” she added, “Finding her biological parents and learning the Chinese culture are her wishes as well as her rights.”

MBL was founded in the U.K. in 2004. For the past fifteen years, MBL has devoted itself to helping overseas adopted Chinese children find their roots, and arranging trips and events for adoptive families and adopted children.

MBL volunteers connect adoptive family and adopted children with the biological families in China, help with translation and information gathering, and provide assistance to their visit to China.

As of 2018, MBL has helped countless adoptive families and adopted children. We have worked with more than a hundred children’s welfare institutes in 17 different provinces.

Thank you, MBL volunteers for your help and support for the past fifteen years! Thank you, adoptive families, for your love and kindness.

Happy 15th Birthday, MBL!

A call for Volunteers and Sponsors at the 2019 Chinese New Year Festival at V&A Museum

Happy new year! We are collaborating with V&A Museum of Childhood to launch the 2019 Chinese New Year Festival, which will be held from 11am to 4pm on 9th, Feb., 2019. Want to volunteer or become a sponsor at this exciting event? It’s a wonderful opportunity to experience the Chinese culture, to meet friends, to support a good cause, and, most importantly, to have a lot of fun. 

Volunteers will be responsible for:

Stall reception ( 3 volunteers )

Performance stage and wall art ( 3 volunteers )

Dressing up ( 3 volunteers )

Craft session ( 5 volunteers )

A volunteer training will be held on the 26th Jan, and the location is 19 Queens court, Queensway, London, W2 4QN, UK. We hope you’ll join us.

We will also be very grateful if you can help us find sponsorship, or business to set up stalls at our venue. Please contact Yifeng Shi (WeChat: SYF1127YK Phone: 07734697037) to get a copy of our invitation letter to potential sponsors. Thank you! 

If you would like to volunteer at this festival or become a sponsor, please contact our team leaders:

Yifeng Shi, WeChat: SYF1127YK Phone: 07734697037.

Ping Lin, WeChat: pinglin2018 Phone: 07436009413 .

Xinran Xue, WeChat: xxxr0719 Phone: 07740151726.

Happy New Year!

Xin Nian Kuai Le! 新年快乐,万事如意!

Join MBL and V & A Museum to celebrate the Year of the Pig!

On Feb. 9, 2019, MBL and V& A Museum of Childhood will work together to celebrate Chinese New Year, the Year of the Pig.  The Pig is the twelfth of the 12-year cycle of animals in the Chinese zodiac. MBL has been collaborating with the V&A Museum for many years, holding regular events to celebrate festivals like Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn festival at the V&A Museum of Childhood.

Activities include, but not limited to

  • facial mask painting
  • lion dance
  • Chinese Folk dance
  • Chinese traditional costume dressing-up
  • performance of Chinese abacus

It’s a free event and please join us for tons of fun!

Click here to read about Chinese New Year

Click here to read about Chinese zodiac

Click here to make a donation to MBL

A big thank you to our volunteers and to all the people who have been supporting us all these years!

Happy New Year!

Xin Nian Kuai Le! 新年快乐,万事如意!

Launch The Secret Message Boats to the Mothers Around the World!

Hello, MBL volunteers and supporters,

MBL and the Essex Festival in the UK have teamed up and will launch an exciting event: The Secret Message Boats to the Mothers Around the World. It would be wonderful if your children, their friends, or classmates be part of it!

The Essex Festival will be held in March 2019. During the festival, 1,000 paper boats will be displayed. At the closing ceremony, these boats will be set sail in the sea. These paper boats are hand-folded by children from China and Britain, each carrying a  “whisper” or a secret message the child has written to his or her mother. (The message will be written on the back of the paper before the paper is folded into a boat.) MBL Volunteers in London will add MBL logo stickers to the boats.

How to fold a paper boat?

Please use a Chinese map to make a boat. Here is the instruction.

  • Paper boat size: Length between 10 – 30cm
  • Before folding, please write a message on the back of the map (either in Chinese or English).

Where to send the boats?

  • If you live in China, please send the paper boats (as many as possible, ideally more than 200 in each package) to the following address before January 3, 2019, so that our volunteer Pan Tong can bring them to London on January 6.

Attn: ZHU Li 

Sino-British Bridge & Mothers’ Bridge of Love Volunteer Center

Fourth Floor, Hexi Central Shopping Center

No. 235, Jiang Dong Zhong Road, Jianye District

Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, 210000

Tel: 13905150047

  •  If you live abroad, please send your boats to the following address by the end of January 2019. They’ll be delivered to the staff at the Essex Festival in the UK in mid-February. 

Xinran / MBL

Flat19, Queens Court


London W2 4QN

The UK





时间及地点:2019年三月开始在英国Essex Festival 埃塞克斯艺术节展示,艺术节结束庆典上小船隆重入海(英国东部)

– 用中国地图纸/如图“折叠”小船(淘宝上可买到大小不一的地图纸,可裁剪所需尺寸。)帆船⛵大小: 长度在10-30CM以内。折叠前,在叠纸背面写给母亲一句心里话/密语(中英文均可)






邮编 210000

若您在海外:敬请在1月底前将您所组织的“母爱桥心语小船⛵” (多多益善)寄/送至:
Flat19, Queens Court
London W2 4QN






Thank you to MBL volunteer You Muqing (游牧晴) for her help with translation. 


MBL’s Toby Eady Library in Nanjing has a new look!


The Toby Eady Library now has a bigger collection of books, thanks to Larry and Carie Haimovitch Charitable Fund, and many of our MBL supporters and volunteers.

Toby Eady, the founding Chairman of Mothers’ Bridge of Love (MBL), passed away on December 24, 2017, but his literary legacy lives on. He was an internationally renowned literary, film, and TV agent. When he retired due to illness in 2015, he donated more than 800 books in over 30 languages to the MBL Volunteer Centre in Nanjing, all written by the celebrated authors he represented. Along with the books, he donated his beloved Victorian-era desk he had kept for many years in his office.

In September 2017, thanks to support from Sino-UK Bridge, an educational institute in China, the MBL Volunteer Centre formally opened the ‘MBL Toby Eady Library.’ It provides a space for young Chinese who love books and literature, and are interested in learning about the world. When Toby was alive, he was passionate about cultural exchange, and championed international writers. He believed that books are vital to understanding ourselves and the world. 

If you would like to support the MBL Toby Eady Library, please make a donation

You can also donate through Give as You Live.

If you plan to visit the MBL Toby Eady Library, please consider bringing a few English Children’s books to donate. Thank you very much for your kind support and generosity! Here is the address

MBL Toby Eady Library

MBL Volunteer Centre

Sino-UK Bridge

4th Floor, Zhongyang Shangchang (Hexi)

235 Jiangdongzhong Road

Jianye District


People’s Republic of China


MBL received a reward from Larry and Carie Haimovitch Charitable Fund to set up the Toby Eady Library in China

MBL just received a reward from Larry and Carie Haimovitch Charitable Fund in honor of the late Toby Eady, who, sadly, passed away last December. Mr Eady was MBL’s board chairman for more than a decade, and had been instrumental in setting up MBL’s 23 international libraries in rural China.

Here is part of the reward letter, addressed to Xinran Eady, MBL’s founder.


Dear Ms. Xue:

It’s my pleasure to inform you that on September 10, 2018 an electronic deposit of $4,326 was made into your organization’s checking account to set up the Toby Eady Library for the MBL China Volunteer Centre at Nanjing City in honor of Toby Eady.

This grant is from the Larry and Carie Haimovitch Charitable Fund of the Marin Community Foundation (MCF) and was recommended by Larry and Carie Haimovitch. Any public listing of this contribution should read: Larry and Carie Haimovitch.

On behalf of all of us at MCF, thank you for everything that you do to improve the world in which we live. 


Thank you for your generous support of MBL, Mr and Mrs Haimovitch! Nothing would have pleased Mr. Eady more than to know that a new library will be open for children in China.

Toby, we miss you!