We enable people without access to traditional banks (including many women) to expand their businesses, educate their children, save for the future and raise themselves out of poverty. Through Kiva, a non-profit organisation working with microfinance institutions, you choose a borrower to support with a loan of just $5 or $25. Similar loans by other lenders are combined until the required total is reached. As your money is repaid you can withdraw it or lend it to someone else. Money that is loaned over and over again does more good than a one-time donation. Join 'Genealogists for Families' - together we are making a difference!
17 November 2011
Meet the Team: Chris Paton
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Although Northern Irish, I have been working as a family historian professionally in Ayrshire, Scotland, for six years, having previously spent 12 years in television documentary production for the BBC and others. As well as genealogical research, I also write regularly for several British family history publications, and have a few books published in the UK and Australia.
How did you hear about the Genealogists for Families project?
My first exposure to Genealogies for Families was through an announcement on Twitter by a fellow Scottish based genealogist, Kirsty Wilkinson, who announced that she had made a loan. I bookmarked it to have a look at in due course, but when contacted by Judy, one of the project's co-ordinators and its originator, I thought I'd better get my act together and actually have a proper look! I did so, and was really impressed by the concept.
What do lending and participating in this project mean to you?
As family historians, it's our job to uncover and preserve a family story for the generations to come. But you can only do that if there is a story to preserve, and there's something even more exciting about helping people to create such a story in the first place. In due course, perhaps some future family historian can recall such stories, long after we are all gone – but whether that happens or not, in the here and now, one loan can help to change a person's life, and that's got to be reason enough.
Did you choose particular borrowers because their occupations or situations have some significance in your family history or your own life?
I chose a 26 year old grocery store owner in Iraq, whose identity remains anonymous because of the political situation in his country. In 1991, when I went to university in Bristol, England, I was given a small bursary from a trust fund set up in the name of an MP called Ian Gow, who was murdered during the Northern Irish Troubles. For various reasons the first year of my course had to be fully funded by myself, and that small bursary made one hell of a difference - it paid my rent in Bristol for a few weeks, which allowed me space to find a part time job to finance the rest of the year. A small loan now to someone else in a troubled area is a privilege to make. If it works for the recipient, the money will be repaid and I can re-invest; if not, it was as much a gamble to try and help someone from a troubled area as was once shown to me.
Is there a borrower whose success story inspired you?
Afraid not, this is a new territory for me! But I do like the concept of Judy's father's 'Do good money'. It seems a sound philosophy. So I will try to invest periodically, perhaps once a month.
What is your Web site / blog?
My research website is Scotland's Greatest Story (www.scotlandsgreateststory.co.uk), whilst I also run two genealogy news blogs, Scottish GENES (Genealogy News and EventS) (http://scottishancestry.blogspot.com/) and British GENES (Genealogy News and EventS) (http://BritishGENES.blogspot.com/).
What are your main family history research interests?
I'm very much interested in Scottish land and church records, and Irish records of all sorts. Not so interested in long lists of names in trees as the stories that can be found out about each of them - an ancestor's name means nothing to me without one.
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Join Genealogists for Families. Together we can make a difference!