Philip and Jiby Kuriakose know what a big difference a little help can make in someone’s life.
The Farmington Hills couple, both physicians, moved from India to the United States in 1996. Philip had taken a residency with Henry Ford Hospital; Jiby was expecting their first child. In 2002, they made a permanent home in Farmington Hills.
Through friend Cheryl Willette, the Kuriakoses got involved with Freedom House, which provides support and security for asylum seekers in Detroit. But they also felt a calling to do more.
“We were always interested in doing something with children and education,” Jiby said, “but the time was not right.”
Last year, children Jonathan and Hannah encouraged their parents to take action.
“We always wanted to help kids who want to move ahead in life, but may not have the structure to do so,” Philip said.
Merit-based scholarship, mentors
The Kuriakoses created the Rajim Foundation to provide that support through a merit-based scholarship. Along with a monetary award, the foundation provides students with mentors.
“We have been helped through life’s journey,” Philip said. “We believe nobody is an island, even if they do not realize it.”
The first scholarship offered through Farmington High School went to Tamia Austin. She can renew it by submitting a recap of her current school year and plan for the next one.
The Kuriakoses also intend to offer the scholarship in India.
“We are working with a school I went to that will act as a link,” Jiby said. “We hope to get one or two kids. There’s a great monetary need there.”
Building a community
The couple expects the foundation to grow over the next several years, expanding across the community. They are also looking for volunteers and donors interested in their mission.
Ultimately, they said, the Rajim Foundation’s success will depend on the community built as students bond with mentors, then give back when they’re able.
“If we can be a shoulder for them, and they find some strength in us, that will definitely help them,” Jiby said.
“The foundation is only as good as the kids who give back to the community and share their abilities,” Philip added. “They will be part of the family.”
To learn more about or support the Rajim Foundation, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.