California man’s legacy gives boost to Palestinian children – UNRWA article

A simple gift: California man’s legacy gives boost to Palestinian children

19 August 2010

A man from California, USA, has bequeathed US$25,000 to UNRWA. Stephen Mark Kaplan wanted to help Palestinian children as directly as possible, and chose the Agency to fulfil his wish.

Kaplan loved children, but had none of his own. He also had no professional or personal relationship with the Middle East, save a visit to Israel many years ago. Yet the plight of Palestinian children spoke to him, and he decided that some of his legacy should go towards helping them. Kaplan decided that UNRWA was best placed to ensure that this would happen.

Care for the less fortunate

A lifelong interest in travel and a determination to help the less fortunate were established early on in Kaplan’s life, during a two-year trip around the world. At the age of 50 he moved to Costa Rica, where he would spend the last 12 years of his life. Fluent in Spanish, he lived a simple life in the local community, and was generous with friends and strangers. Until the end of his life, Kaplan was an avid reader and a lover of knowledge, who encouraged young people to get an education.

Kaplan died of pneumonia at the age of 62, leaving his sister Eileen in charge of his estate. Respecting his wishes to help Palestinian children, she recently sent a cheque to UNRWA in Kaplan’s name.

A big heart

“My brother was not a wealthy man; he had a big heart,” said Eileen. The generous donation will be used by UNRWA’s education programme to give the gift of education to hundreds of Palestinian students. UNRWA is grateful for Kaplan’s kind contribution, and his inspiring example.

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