The founder, Shaji Jose Parayil, was a senior banker based in Dubai. He holds an engineering degree in computer science (from India) and a master’s in risk management and regulation (from Germany). In the past he has worked to support the poor in India and Kenya with his time and resources on a part-time basis by sponsoring the education of children, visiting their homes, and providing financial help for health care and home-building.
Following two deaths and a tragic personal loss he decided to re-evaluate his life once again. He read many books, including the Bible, traveled to many places, and met many people from all walks of life around the world. Thereafter he walked the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage of 800 kilometers starting from St Jean pied de Port (in France) to Santiago de Compostela (in Spain). Along the way he realized that there is a greater joy in giving something back to life (living for God) than in just living for one’s own possessions. From Matthew 25:40, he concluded that “living for God” means “living for the poor.” During his travels to meet the poor in Africa and India, he realized how immensely blessed he already was – with both possessions and with relationships. A sense of gratitude filled his heart and thus he decided to dedicate the rest of his professional life to serving God by serving the poor. That was the beginning of Annemarie Foundation.
“In this job, I’m just the gardener,” he says, “who plants and nurtures the kindness of donors in the land of God to bear fruits for the poor. Neither the plants nor the land belongs to me. Yet, the colors and fragrance of the flowers – the smile and joy of the poor who benefits – is part of God’s gift to the gardener. I’m immensely thankful to all of you and to our God who helps me keep going.”
Aside from his charitable work, Shaji spends much of his time reading and writing. Two of his published books are: “The Mango Tree,” and “A Thief, An Angel, and Some Butterflies.” His author website isWebsite
The statement from Jesus, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did to Me,” (Matthew 25:40) is the mission statement of Annemarie Foundation. “Lighting the lamp of love” is the tagline, which is symbolized in its logo: