Home General How Gary Kaplan Made 800 Refugee Children from Nicaragua Feel at Home in Costa Rica

How Gary Kaplan Made 800 Refugee Children from Nicaragua Feel at Home in Costa Rica

by Olufisayo
Gary Kaplan

Demonstrations erupted in April 2018, when Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega tried to cut welfare benefits. This was not the only action by President Ortega that sent Nicaraguan people into a series of violent protests throughout the summer of 2018, but it was the straw that broke the camel’s back and pushed Nicaraguan citizens over the edge.

Throughout the following year, many incidents of human rights violations were reported against those people who participated in anti-government activity as well as those people who were in assistance.

In the wake of these protests, many Nicaraguans have fled the country looking to gain asylum from neighboring countries. As of November 2019, a little over a year into Nicaragua’s political and social crisis, an estimated 62,000 people have fled to neighboring countries, with the vast majority – about 55,500 – finding refuge in Costa Rica.

For many reasons, Costa Rica is a perfect place for all of the Nicaraguan refugees. For starters, their educational system promises to provide instruction to all children, regardless of nationality or if the child is a registered citizen in Costa Rica.

UNHCR, the UN’s international refugee agency, recently commended Costa Rica on efforts to enable people to enter its territory and access its asylum procedure. These efforts are all the more commendable given the significant pressure on the asylum system and local communities.

Yet even the most giving of nations, in a time of struggle,  and with that many additional people flooding the nation and the communities and cities that rest on the Nicaraguan border, need assistance. The Kaplan Foundation, led by Gary Kaplan, heard that cry.

Gary Kaplan started the Kaplan Foundation years before when he and his family first moved to Costa Rica and the foundation has been a uniquely generous help to local communities since Gary Kaplan and his family arrived.

Over the years many Costa Rican families were displaced due to horrific mudslides in several different villages throughout the country. Some 1,400 areas throughout the country were prone to this sort of catastrophic event due to unstable underground.

The Kaplan Foundation had been helping these displaced families by aiding in the rebuilding of their lost homes. So when the time came to lend a hand to this influx of refugees, the giving process for Gary Kaplan and The Kaplan Foundation was rather seamless.

The Kaplan Foundation made the necessary contributions to the proper organizations that were on the front lines with the refugee influx in Costa Rica. The contributions went above and beyond to help the members of the local communities near the home of Gary Kaplan and his family, but nearing the end of 2019 Gary felt himself wanting to do more.

While it was good these people were receiving contributions from the foundation to get their needs met, Gary felt the desire to help the kids of these refugee families to have a little fun.

So into the trenches, he went. Gary Kaplan decided that he wanted to host a dinner around the holidays and give these brave kids who had been pushed from their homes through no fault of their own, but in an act of survival, a meal and a party to remember. So that is what he did.

One night in Costa Rica near the end of 2019, a man named Gary Kaplan, along with the help of his family, the foundation he worked hard to build, and many other generous locals, put on an apron and a chef’s hat and took to the kitchen.

Gary Kaplan played chef, waiter, and friend to almost 8oo young people to give them a very special dinner that he hoped would feed them (obviously!), let them enjoy an evening of fun, and help them create amazing memories for these children in the wake of catastrophe.

Gary Kaplan loves the work that he is able to accomplish with The Kaplan Foundation, but his favorite work is the kind where he gets a little dirty, but in return, gets to witness smiles and gather hugs from a crew of very happy youngsters who have benefitted from the efforts of The Kaplan Foundation.

“It’s easy to fund the meals for the children in Costa Rica,  but it’s more fun to make the food and hand it out. It’s more fun to see and interact with the people.  I truly receive more in this interaction than I can ever give.  It’s that simple.  The tradeoff for me.  120 pieces of pizza and eighty hugs.  I get much more.  So In a way, charity is almost selfish.  When I see the pleasure on the children’s faces, I get so much from it.”

—Gary Kaplan, Founder -The Kaplan Foundation

Costa Rica, a giving nation who truly sets out to do good by their own people and those neighbors around them that need their assistance in times of crisis, found a very good addition to their giving roster in the form of Gary Kaplan and the good people of the Kaplan Foundation.

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Gary Kaplans Charity Efforts Show Good Investments in our Future July 20, 2021 - 7:30 PM

[…] get a good night’s sleep and be well fed so that they can concentrate on their schoolwork. Gary Kaplan and The HG Kaplan Foundation recruit volunteers in the area to build the children new beds, and they request donations from […]

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