On Saturday, March 19, the American India Foundation (AIF) hosted its third Annual Orange County Gala, bringing together more than 250 guests, including some of the region’s most influential philanthropists and entrepreneurs to raise more than $500,000 in support of AIF’s Maternal and Newborn Survival Initiative (MANSI), working to reduce maternal and child mortality by providing care and support by empowering local communities to care for their mothers and children.

AIF Trustee and Gala Co-Chair Tinnie Grewal welcomed the audience and thanked Gala Chair MS International, Co-Chair Tarsadia Foundation and major sponsors including the Avasant Foundation, Gala Foundation, Paladin Healthcare Capital LLC, and Stradling. “The Orange County community exemplifies the spirit of thinking globally and acting locally,” remarked Mrs. Grewal. “Thanks to the incredible support of our community, we are building waves across oceans in strengthening AIF’s resolve to uplift so many out of cycles of poverty, and helping them to live healthy, successful and productive lives.”

Manu and Rika Shah, Founders of MS International, Inc., the leading importer and distributor of natural stones in North America, were honored for their philanthropic leadership in the region. In great part due to their longstanding support and affiliation with AIF, the Shahs deepened their partnership with AIF to advance their charitable goals in 2013 with a focus on education and livelihoods. “Access to education and job skills training are essential to paving the way for a brighter future for any individual,” said Mona Shah. “AIF’s Digital Equalizer program brings innovative technology and educational approaches to school children who do not otherwise have access to technology, while the Market Aligned Skills Training program provides young adults skills training to provide them with better career opportunities. These are important foundations to create better livelihoods.”

Award-winning New York-based comedian Anish Shah emceed the event which included a captivating personal testimony by Sumitra Mahato, a longtime community health worker – or “sahiya” in the MANSI program from Krishnapur village in Jharkhand, who at the mere age of 28 has been serving expectant mothers and their babies in her home village. Remarked AIF Co-Founder and Co-Chair Lata Krishnan, “MANSI’s power comes from empowering local women to be the agents of change in their own communities. The sahiyas are true bastions of inspiration. It is thanks to local leaders like Sumitra that so many have had the opportunity to live healthy lives.”

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