In 2011 we won an award for Best New Community Project. Our goal is to enable people without access to traditional banks (including many women) to expand their businesses, support and 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 $25. Similar loans by other lenders are combined until the required total is reached. As your money is repaid (often in monthly instalments), you can withdraw it or lend it to someone else. ($25 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!
24 November 2011
Meet the Team: Gill Chesney-Green
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm now retired from teaching drama in the UK and divide my time between living there and in Gibraltar. I do a little genealogy (not as much as before because the tree is pretty full now and I'm running out of information that is available until further records are transcribed), astrology, a little counselling, singing and playing guitar in Gibraltar (for fun not a career choice!) and dabbling in little 'crafty' activities as the mood takes me.
How did you hear about the Genealogists for Families project?
I've often found that life throws up a series of 'happy accidents'. I'd been doing some genealogy work and looking for links to mental health and genealogy. I stumbled upon the 'Wandering Genealogist' site and his forebear who ended up in an asylum. It was on his site that I found the Geneameme, which was interesting, so in an idle moment I filled in answers to the questions and sent it off to Geniaus. It was not very long before I received a reply from Judy Webster who'd noticed that my email contained a link to Kiva, and I was invited to join the team.
What do lending & participating in this project mean to you?
I've been a member of Kiva since 2006. I was initially drawn to them because I felt that the money I gave was going to do more good than any money I donated to charities that filtered money down to the recipients in a less targeted manner. Who would best know what a man or woman wanted and needed but they themselves? I liked that. Peer to peer lending... the person who knew what they needed to get them on their feet and an individual able to lend an amount of money to aid that need in being met. Back in those days one could donate any amount to any recipient and I loaned larger amounts than the $25 now suggested. Once I started, I was hooked, and constantly re-donated my money and added to it over time.
Did you choose particular borrowers because their occupations or situations have some significance in your family history or your own life?
The borrowers are not chosen for any other reason than that I like what they are trying to do. I don't concentrate on gender, geographical location or type of business particularly... although I remember being particularly drawn to one man from Palestine who was in such fear for his life that he had to remain anonymous. I couldn't imagine how risky this venture was for him and how 'near the edge' his life must have been. I donated to him because of his determination to better his life and that of his family in the face of such difficulties. Sometimes I just pick borrowers in order on the list, feeling that if they are there asking for help they don't particularly want me to make a judgement about whether they or someone else is more 'worthy' of the money I loan.
Was there a borrower whose success story inspired you?
In the early days of my association with Kiva, when the loans were fewer, I used to follow the progress of the entrepreneurs; but, to my shame, I don't any more. I'm happy to know that the recipients are able to fulfil some of their plans and that their lives and those of their families will be enriched. This is enough for me to know... that their lives are better than before and that, with continued effort, they will carry on getting better.
Do you have a strategy for raising funds or saving for your $25 loans?
Originally I'd earned some money, in addition to my teaching job, by doing some work for the BBC (writing their GCSE Drama revision pages on the BBC 'Bitesize' website). When I stumbled upon Kiva I felt that this was a good way to use some of this extra money in a sensible way that wasn't purely selfish. I used a good portion of this money for Kiva's benefit and over the years have added to it when I can. It'll never come back into my hands directly now. What I haven't had I don't miss.
What is your Web site?
Family history interests?
The most interesting areas of my family history are the Swinnocks from Kent (in Maidstone from late 1500s) and Tebbs from Yorkshire (from where my family's mental health issues seem to emanate). I hope my children and grandchildren will carry on the search when I'm gone.
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