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!
19 January 2012
Meet the Team: Leona Thomas
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in, and live in Edinburgh, Scotland - but I'm not Scottish, having an Irish Mum and an English Dad! I was Primary teacher for 20 years and am now an EAL (English as an Additional Language) teacher. I adore animals and have an elderly lady cat (Smokie) at the moment. I am also an enthusiastic amateur genealogist. I have taken on some commissions lately to do research for friends (who insisted on paying me) and word is spreading so hope to have a few more projects on the go soon! It all started when I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of 9 people whose family tree would be researched for the TV programme 'Extraordinary Ancestors' made by Channel 4 in 2000. I was taken to Germany where we filmed for 5 days to put together my Prussian family history roots - back to 1620! Perhaps the most rewarding thing lately has been making links to living cousins and being able to tell them their family history - and even meeting up - which we have done a few times in the last couple of years.
How did you hear about the Genealogists for Families project?
Through the newsletter from LostCousins by Peter Calver. He runs a super website and I've found a few of MY lost cousins this way!
What do lending and participating in this project mean to you?
So often you put money in a collecting tin or donate to some good cause or other - but you never really feel in touch with who you are helping - and maybe even wonder if it DOES get to the people who need it. This seemed to address those concerns.
Did you choose particular borrowers because their occupations or situations have some significance in your family history or your own life?
I worked with a little girl from Africa today who has such potential, and having heard of what her life had been, I thought I would look for an African cause to support.
Is there a borrower whose success story inspired you?
I chose the Sikulu group in Kenya. Solomon is a father of three children. He joined One Acre Fund in order to access fertilizer and hybrid seeds and ensure food security for his family. With income from maize sales, Solomon wants to educate his children. I looked for a specific child-centred or education project but there wasn't one at this time and this seemed a good alternative.
Do you have a strategy for raising funds or saving for your $25 loans?
I decided to take this amount from the money paid to me to do family research. I felt that I might have spent that amount on something trivial without thinking much about it - but the same amount of money could do so much more used this way.
Your Web sites?
I am co-administrator of the Kannenberg Surname Group and administrator of the Thomas Family Tree group - both on Facebook.
What are your main family history interests?
Kannenberg (from Prussia), McCarthy (Co. Down, N.Ireland), Thomas (Portsmouth and St Germans / Landrake, Cornwall), Chissel / Chiswell (Cornwall), Campbell (Co. Down, N.Ireland), Butler (Buckinghamshire), Besant (Portsmouth), Ruse (St Germans, Cornwall).
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Join Genealogists for Families. Together we can make a difference!