In 2011 we won an award for Best New Community Project. 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 via Kiva Zip or $25 via Kiva. 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. 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!

29 December 2011

Meet the Team: Blanka Lednická

This week's guest post is by Genealogists for Families team member Blanka Lednická from the Czech Republic.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in a small village in the Vysocina region, Czech Republic. I'm a professional genealogist for two and a half years (I have worked in IT area before, but studied history), focused on the family history in Bohemia, Moravia and Austrian part of Silesia. I'm married, have two very young daughters, two dogs, four cats and a large, about three hundred years old house. My hobbies - well, one large, genealogy; some smaller - travelling, reading, collecting tourist marks and probably something more can be found.

What do lending and participating in this project mean to you?

I studied international relations and security studies and this kind of help is the one I like most - to help people who want to help themselves. Every time there is some huge collection to feed the hungry people, I get angry because we are just teaching these people how to NOT take care for themselves. I support those projects which have some long-term goals - and small loans belong among them.

I joined Genealogists for Families because I belong among genealogists. And I felt this was the right thing to do - to connect with other people who have the same interests and help a bit more.

Did you choose particular borrowers because their occupations or situations have some significance in your family history or your own life?

I choose women - that's my main strategy, because I want to support those who are taken as the weaker ones. I prefer those people who are willing to create or sell something they have produced. When you take a look on my Kiva account, it's quite clear that I prefer African countries because I'm interested in them. My main subject during the IR study was Western Africa so I try to focus on this part of the continent, but it's not always easy to find the right person or group.

My ancestors were farmers and I know very well how hard it is to get enough food for whole family. So I also prefer those people who have more children (and send them to school). I also take a look on the field partner, on the number of people they have helped through Kiva and also Portfolio Yield, because I want to know how much money the field partner takes from those we are lending to.

Is there a borrower whose success story inspired you?

I joined Kiva after one TV news where microloans were described. I loved the idea and I decided to help too, because I can help. I have read about large borrowers who lent their money to hundreds of people later on, but what inspired me most was the fact that even I can help with just a little amount of money.

Do you have a strategy for raising funds or saving for your $25 loans?

I have done just a few loans on Kiva, but my strategy can be easily described as "someone paid the invoice to PayPal account, I can send some money to Kiva and do one more loan". This is just a small amount of money for me which I won't miss - $25 is about 18 beers in average Czech pub, one large package of diapers, 13.5 litres of gas...

Kiva loans have one thing in common - they are addictive!

What is your Web site or blog?

Czech Genealogy for Beginners (http://czechgenealogy.blogspot.com)
Professional website (www.familyresearch.cz)
And you can find me on Twitter (http://twitter.com/ClariciaCZ) or Facebook.

What are your main family history research interests?

Almost all my ancestors are from Bohemia or Moravia, just one line from Germany. Many of my ggg-grandfathers were farmers who lived their quiet lives in the Czech countryside. My main lines are Vetrovec (Rakovnik district), Bartl (Kolin district), Cudlik (Jihlava district) and Kralicek (Zdar n/Saz. district).

"Tradition does not mean preserving the ashes but keeping a flame alight." This is my motto and I try to keep the flames flaring. Judy, thanks a lot for this initiative.

- - - - - - - - -

Join Genealogists for Families. Together we can make a difference!

22 December 2011

Meet the Team: Helen V. Smith

This week's guest post is by Genealogists for Families team member Helen Smith from Queensland, Australia.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a public health molecular epidemiologist (fancy type of scientist). I am also a researcher, author and speaker and have a wonderful time doing these. My major hobby (25-year obsession) is family history with swirls of medical and social history for flavour and life. I like my tech toys, and in my free time I love reading.

What do lending and participating in this project mean to you?

My family have had a history of helping people in need, with money or by giving a hand where needed, as Dad believed in making a difference. He was involved in Lions and on the social welfare committee of the Tramways where he worked. Mum and Dad also fostered children in the early years of my childhood. We had made loans through Kiva before (all of which had been repaid). I believe in paying forward and that anyone can make a difference. I was thrilled to become a member of Genealogists for Families.

Did you choose particular borrowers because their occupations or situations have some significance in your family history or your own life?

I tend to look for people who are trying to develop a small business, particularly women. I feel that this type of loan makes the biggest future impact in a community because possibilities become real to everyone. Women particularly because it is often very difficult for them to get a loan. In my time I have made loans that have assisted people to buy a sewing machine and an oven.

Do you have a strategy for raising funds or saving for your $25 loans?

One of my strategies for collecting the $25 is throwing those pesky 5c pieces into a jar. I often throw the other silver coins in as well to lighten my wallet but definitely the 5c. It doesn't take long to add up and $25 is the price of a few cups of coffee to us but as part of a Kiva loan, is life changing to others.

Web site or blog?

My main blog is at http://helenvsmithresearch.blogspot.com/ and you can find my others blogs from there.

Your main family history interests?

My main research interests are my Quested One Name Study (anywhere, anytime), Busby (Oxfordshire and Brisbane), Philpott, Amos, Hurrell in Kent, Eng, Rollason (Foleshill Warwickshire and Brisbane Queensland), Weeks, Spear in Devon Eng, Hamer and Lewis (Ludlow Shropshire) and Culley/Cullicoat (Mabe Cornwall). More of my interests are on my blog pages.

- - - - - - - - -

Join Genealogists for Families. Together we can make a difference!

17 December 2011

We Won a Genealogy Award!

I am delighted to tell you that today (the same day that our Kiva team reached the milestone of 100 members) Genealogists for Families received a GeneaBlog Award for 'Best New Community Project'. The press release, GeneaPress: 2011 GeneaBlog Award Winners Announced, begins:

Tamura Jones' annual GeneaBlog Award for 2011 honors four genealogy bloggers. He writes, 'One fun thing about the Genealogy Blog Awards is that it does not have fixed categories. Every year I look for blogs to highlight, and then create a fitting category just for them. There is no fixed number of awards either. This year, the Genealogy Blog Awards highlights just four genealogy blogs, but these sure are four worthy ones.'

When you read the full press release, check out the other three award winning blogs. I especially enjoy Clue Wagon, which has some of the funniest posts I've ever read.

This award belongs to our entire Kiva team and everyone else who has supported the project and advised and encouraged me over the past three months. Thank you, and congratulations!

15 December 2011

Recruiter's Reward Winner Announced

On November 5th, in 'Recruiter's Reward', I said that to help the project grow I would give a $25 Kiva Card to the Genealogists for Families team member who recruited the most new Kiva members by 15 Dec 2011. I also explained how to use your personal referral link.

There was a very clear winner - Peter. He recruited 22 people via his LostCousins newsletter. Congratulations and thank you, Peter! Please email me and tell me where to send your Kiva Card.

In a more recent LostCousins newsletter Peter says that between Christmas and New Year the LostCousins site will be totally free. That is, all members will have subscriber privileges whether nor not they have paid a subscription. I'm glad I heard about this is advance. I've recently found more relatives in the 1911 British census, and if I enter them on my LostCousins page before the free period starts, it will increase my chances of being contacted by others who are researching my families.

Meet the Team: Pauleen Cass

This week's guest post is by Genealogists for Families team member Pauleen Cass from the Northern Territory.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Darwin in Australia's Top End, but am a Queenslander born and bred. I've now retired from full-time employment when I worked in the administration of university research centres. Apart from my family and friends, my obsession is family history which I've been doing for the past 25 years.

How did you hear about the Genealogists for Families project?

After being contacted by Judy I read up all the information on her blogs and decided to definitely go ahead with it. I was inspired by her own family's story of giving.

What do lending and participating in this project mean to you?

I believe that we in Australia are incredibly fortunate with our lives and families, certainly I have been. I want to be able to share that good fortune with others who are working hard to establish their family's well-being and security. I've read and heard about micro-loans and their successful impact on people's economic security. The very high reliability of repayments means more loans can be made over time.

Did you choose particular borrowers because their occupations or situations have some significance in your family history or your own life?

My first foray into Kiva has been less structured than it may be in the future. My emphasis will be on supporting women especially where it helps them to bring up their families and educate their children. I chose one woman because she does carpentry – a skill that has been in different family branches. With my first loans I decided it would be best to give the last amount to complete a loan. My geographical emphasis will probably be the Asia-Pacific region and Africa where my daughter is going to work.

Is there a borrower whose success story inspired you?

I've just read about the HIV clinic at Guayacil, Ecuador and Baco D-MIRO which provides financial support to HIV positive people. I want to explore this further because for four years I worked as the senior administrator of a national HIV Centre in Australia and believe in supporting those who are HIV positive.

Do you have a strategy for raising funds or saving for your $25 loans?

Not really. Obviously repaid loans will be reinvested into other loans but in the meantime I want to progressively make more loans. Perhaps a good idea for Christmas/birthdays?

What is your Web site?

Family history across the seas (www.cassmob.wordpress.com)

What are your main family history research interests?

Most branches of my family were Queensland pioneers (Kent, Kunkel, O'Brien, Gavin, Partridge) with progressively later grafts (Melvin, McSherry, McSharry, McCorkindale). My focus is learning as much possible about their lives. I also have an interest in immigrants from east County Clare, Ireland and a group from Dorfprozelten in Bavaria.
- - - - - - - - -

Join Genealogists for Families. Together we can make a difference!

11 December 2011

Christmas gifts - and I need your help!

As you plan your Christmas shopping, please consider Kiva Cards and other gifts that support the work of Kiva (I love the piggybank and the calendar).

After almost four weeks away from Brisbane for family reasons, I will be working very long hours to catch up on client work. I therefore need your help to continue spreading the word about our Genealogists for Families team on Kiva. Some of you have already made a huge effort, and I hope more of you will help with publicity now. You may want to try the recruiting strategy that has worked best for me, which is a brief email to friends, relatives, workmates and colleagues. Here is a sample email, which can be modified as you wish.

"Genealogists worldwide (and their non-genealogist friends and relatives) are working as a team to help families in low income areas. Our motto is, 'We care about families (past, present and future)'. Within 10 weeks the project had 97 members from 9 countries helping more than 180 individuals or groups all over the world - and the numbers increase daily. It would be great if you'd join our team, http://www.kiva.org/team/genealogists. There is more information on that page. Anyone can join - you do not need to be a genealogist! If you know someone else who may be interested, please forward this email."

I avoid using the word 'loan' in the email in case it gets marked as spam.

When I joined Kiva there were 1,000 borrowers listed, and now there are 6,000. Let's try to persuade more people to join Kiva. Together we can make a difference!

08 December 2011

Meet the Team: Jennifer Jones

This week's guest post is by Genealogists for Families team member Jennifer Jones from Victoria, Australia.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I have lived in Bendigo in Central Victoria since 2006, and I love it dearly for its extra friendly people and its history. Bendigo was a prosperous Goldfields town, and thankfully many of the buildings are still standing.

I am a very keen family historian, studying for a Certificate of Genealogical Studies and considering going on to do the Diploma. After over 33 years of running my own automotive business with my now ex-husband, I currently work in office administration. I love my job more than I expected, so I work much longer hours than I intended. That means my time spent on family history and research is limited until I retire.

My other passion is fitness, particularly cycling. I have ridden many kilometres in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland, plus some memorable riding in London and Wales. I am the proud mother of three children and two adorable grandsons.

How did you hear about the Genealogists for Families Project?

I read about it on Twitter and I thought it was a worthy cause that I would love to be involved with, one day when I had more time. After a couple of weeks of reading very positive tweets about the loans that were being made, I realized that there was nothing stopping me from making a difference today. I joined that day and have made two loans so far. Very exciting.

What do lending and participating in this project mean to you?

I feel very honoured to be participating in this project. I love that we are empowering hard working individuals in very poor circumstances to help themselves and have some control over their future. This is going to give them and their families a much better future than they would otherwise have had. Genealogists have always been a very generous group of people, so it doesn't surprise me at all that this project has taken off so successfully.

Did you choose particular borrowers because their occupations or situations have some significance in your family history or your own life?

At first I wondered how I would choose a borrower. There were so many and all sounded worthy. I decided to give my loans to females as I feel they probably have more difficulty and face many more obstacles in operating a business, in some underprivileged countries. I decided to concentrate on agriculture due to its importance to health outcomes among the underprivileged. Having given it some more thought since, I've decided my next two loans will be to someone trying to get a start in the clothing business. In the 1990s my second cousins wife, when she was in her 80s, went to Timor and set up sewing co-operatives throughout the country. I'm sure she would love to know that I'm continuing on her tradition in my own small way.

Do you have a strategy for raising funds or saving for your $25 loans?

I have set aside $100 to go towards loans, as a starting point, and will continue to re-loan as the loans are paid back. My strategy is to try to get as many family and friends involved as possible. I see the Christmas period as an ideal time for this. I'm planning on gifting Kiva cards to some friends so they can choose their own borrower and hopefully become inspired to continue on. My personal feeling is that $25 to me is such a small amount, that doing without it will cause me no problem at all. I wouldn't even notice $25 less in my bank account. I feel so blessed to have an almost perfect life and to live in the lucky country. I am very fortunate to have excellent health as do my family. I feel so blessed that the need to give a struggling family the opportunity for a better lifestyle and better health outcomes is very strong in me.

What is your website?

Tracking Down The Family (http://jonesfamilyhistory.wordpress.com/). I am on Facebook and Twitter.

What are your family history interests?

The Taylor and Lloyd family who came to Australia from Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire Wales in 1841. In my maternal line, Waters, Morrison, Gilmour and Louden. These are mostly Scottish and Irish. Most of my ancestors became struggling farmers, which is another reason that I am drawn to this project.

I have always believed that one of the ways to be happy is to do what it takes to make others happy. This project is giving the opportunity of happiness to less fortunate families than mine, and that makes me very happy. I am looking forward to making more loans and following the success of the borrowers as they repay their loans.
- - - - - - - - -

Join Genealogists for Families. Together we can make a difference!

01 December 2011

Meet the Team: Kirsty Wilkinson

This week's guest post is by Genealogists for Families team member Kirsty Wilkinson from the UK.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Edinburgh, Scotland but am originally from Worcestershire, England. I'm a professional genealogist and run the 'My Ain Folk' family history research service. Genealogy fills most of my time but I also enjoy going to the cinema and occasionally playing video games (I'm a big Professor Layton fan).

How did you hear about the Genealogists for Families project?

I'd seen a few of my Facebook friends posting about Kiva and thought it seemed like a great scheme but never actually got around to joining. When I heard about the Genealogists for Families project on Twitter I thought it was time I got involved.

What do lending and participating in this project mean to you?

As someone who is self-employed I'm aware of some of the challenges of running a small business and would like to give a hand to others in a similar situation. I don't regularly give to charity but with Kiva I feel that my money (even if only a small sum) is really helping others to build a better future for themselves and their families.

Did you choose particular borrowers because their occupations or situations have some significance in your family history or your own life?

The loans I have made have been to assist people to expand their businesses and increase their income as I feel this has the best chance of improving their situation in the long term. I haven't chosen borrowers with particular occupations but, in the spirit of the Genealogists for Families project, I have selected people who are working to support families. For example, I chose a borrower who is supporting both his father and his young daughter through his business.

Do you have a strategy for raising funds or saving for your $25 loans?

My plan is to make one loan a month, which is a realistic goal for me financially. In terms of genealogy, I think of it as the equivalent of spending an extra day at the ScotlandsPeople Centre each month. Once my loans are repaid I plan to use the money to fund further loans.

What is your Web site?

My genealogy business website is My Ain Folk (www.myainfolk.com).

What are your family history research interests?

Professionally, I specialise in researching at the main Scottish archives and libraries including the ScotlandsPeople Centre, the National Records (formerly National Archives) of Scotland and the National Library of Scotland. My own ancestry is a mix of English, Scottish and Irish and these days is rather neglected!
- - - - - - - - -

Join Genealogists for Families. Together we can make a difference!