Many of our region’s cultural attractions exist today because of support from charitable San Diegans. Yet seldom do we have the opportunity to learn about those people who give and their reasons for doing so.

For two local couples, the Shahs and Aroras, the reason for giving is a cultural one.

These couples share their heritage with the San Diego community by providing grants to support the new House of India cottage in Balboa Park.

Salim and Franciose Shah believe they are temporary custodians of whatever talents and resources they are blessed with. Family, friends, colleagues and fellow community members are all in some way or another helping them and enriching their lives. In return, they must share these gifts for the greater good of the community.

“Our philosophy of giving is based on the faith based concept: that we are required to share the blessings we have been given in terms of talent, service, and wealth for the betterment of the community we live in and for the good of all worldwide,” Salim said.

Krishna and Bonnie Arora take a “hands-on” approach to charitable giving by personally getting involved with the recipients of their funds. The children of an elementary school that Krishna and Bonnie support in India write letters to them several times a year. Bonnie and Krishna answer each one. Krishna is learning to write in Hindi all over again, having left India more than 45 years ago.

“The ultimate satisfaction is seeing the results of your giving and how you have touched the lives of people,” Krishna said.

Approach to Philanthropy

For both couples, the Indian heritage has a lot to do with their approach to philanthropy – a heritage of the selfless work of people of faith and spirit. In Indian culture, taking care of each other is an ingrained characteristic. A sense of personal care and empathy is strong. The close knit extended family means caring for and helping other family, friends and community members.

House of India was created as a result of questions raised by a young Indian-American child participating in a cultural field trip to Balboa Park. She wondered why there was no India-specific cottage among the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages in Balboa Park. Her questions led a group of dedicated parents to create the nonprofit, House of India.

Along with other eager communities and organizations, the group began the process to approve an amendment to the general plan of Balboa Park to allow the construction of five buildings in the International Cottage area. Funds are currently being raised to complete the House of India cottage at a cost of $300,000.

The House of India cottage will provide San Diegans with a place to experience a rich cultural tradition, and serve as an educational resource for school children, community members and the millions of tourists who come each year to Balboa Park.

Supporting San Diego

This is an opportunity to build a cottage as a permanent legacy for future generations to teach and enjoy the rich Indian heritage.

Learn more about how to support Balboa Park and San Diego’s cultural growth by exploring The Foundation’s programs and funds.

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