The kind of legacy I want to leave.

I am pleased to share my human rights story. I am 78 and currently live in downtown Toronto. I once had a house in the suburbs but felt over time that I was becoming a ‘prisoner to my garden’. Some house and balcony plants do just fine for me now.

I love dogs. Rather than having my own, I provide a much needed community service – I foster abandoned and mistreated dogs as they await permanent adoption. Each dog is a new challenge. I can become very fond of my charges: sometimes it’s hard to let them go. But I’m confident they’ll thrive in their new homes because of my efforts.

My hobby – continuing education courses – has made me more aware of the deep relationship between international development and human rights. When I retired in 2005 I had more time for courses. I even earned a second degree – a BA in French Literature!

I support a number of charities and I’m methodical about my charitable giving. I give back as much as I can to make the world a better place.

A vacation to India when I was in my thirties was an epiphany. I was truly shocked by the extreme poverty I saw all around me. I awoke to the inequality and overwhelming unfairness in our world.

My first donation to Amnesty International was in response to a letter in 1987. It was about torture – “We are God in here”, the torturers said. The inhumanity of humanity can be enormous. I was glad to be able to do something about it. I continued to give regular donations to Amnesty for years.

I like charities that are noisy, that strive to be heard. I’ve developed faith in Amnesty and its work.

When I was asked if I wanted protecting human rights to be a part of my legacy to the world, it was an easy decision for me. My involvement now would last way beyond me, helping ensure the human rights of future generations.

Some people leave the greater part of their estate to their family and the balance to charity. I have no children and my niece and nephew have more money than I do! I’m leaving all my money to charity – international development, the arts (I was once a serious flute player), and Amnesty International.

I am mindful of the words of Nelson Mandela:

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It’s the difference we have made to the lives of others”.

A legacy lives on. It will help create a fair world in which all human beings can earn a decent living, enjoy basic education and healthcare, have the freedom to speak out for their rights, and be treated as equals.

It’s the kind of legacy I, personally, want to leave.