Edith Lemay and Sebastien Pelletier, a couple from Quebec, have four kids, all of whom may share a similar fate. At least three of them have retinitis pigmentosa, a rare genetic disease that causes loss of vision over time. The saddest part is that there’s no known cure for it. To try and alleviate that gut-wrenching, gloomy future of their kids, Edith and Sebastien have decided to show them the world and make them experience firsthand all the places, animals, food, colors, and architecture.
The Canadian couple, who had been married for twelve years when they got the bad news about Mia, noticed that their two sons, Colin (7) and Laurent (5), started showing the same symptoms. In 2019 the doctors confirmed their fears. Once Edith and Sebastien had come to terms with the news, they started focusing on what they could still do for their kids instead of thinking of the inevitable. They turned their attention to helping their children develop certain vital skills to navigate life when their vision fades away.
Immediately, Edith comes up with a brilliant idea of showing instead of telling. Why tell your kids what a camel looks like when you can have them ride one? The parents are planning to fill their children’s visual memory with the best, most stupefying images they can afford. It’s not just the objects but different cultures and people as well.
The family of six was originally supposed to start their grand journey in July 2020, and they even prepared a detailed route, but as you can probably guess, the pandemic made all their plans crumble into dust. At least for a while, as they eventually left Montreal in March 2022.
Before leaving, the family made a to-see list that included everything the kids wanted to experience during the trip. Mia really loves horses and would love to ride one, and Laurent’s wish was to drink juice sitting on a camel. Their journey began in Namibia, where the family met with elephants, giraffes, and zebras. After that, they traveled to Zambia and Tanzania before leaving Africa and flying to Turkey, where they spent a month. Next on the list were Mongolia and Indonesia. Where to after that? You can keep up with their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.
Lemay and Pelletier hope that spending time in different countries and experiencing different cultures will show the kids how lucky they are, despite the difficulties that may arise in their lives later when their vision deteriorates.
The family plans to come back to Canada next March, but it’s not set in stone. Things may change, so thinking this far ahead won’t do them any good. Living in the moment is also one of the things Edith and Sebastien would like their kids to learn from this trip.
They still hope Mia, Colin, and Laurent never lose sight, but you can’t always get what you want, so the parents are doing their best to ensure their children can handle anything the future might throw at them.