Updated: Sep 18
The Lemay-Pelletier family has experienced their share of obstacles. First, their daughter Mia, now 12, was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa a few years after she began to develop vision problems. Then, in 2019, her siblings Colin and Laurent, now 7 and 5, began to experience the same symptoms and were subsequently diagnosed with the same condition. Over time, the disease will cause the three to be visually impaired, and there is currently no treatment or cure to slow the deterioration of sight. Edith Lemay shared that she expects her children to be completely blind by mid-life (CNN).
Their father, Sébastien Pelletier, and mother Edith of Boucherville, Quebec, have decided to provide their children with the richest form of visual memories while they can, and what better way than to see all the sights of the world? The family set off on their global trip last March, which had been postponed by two years due to Covid-19. With no itinerary in particular, the family, who has amassed a following of twenty three thousand on their Facebook page and eighty thousand Instagram followers, have visited Mongolia, Turkey, Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania, and Botswana, with Indonesia coming up next.
PHOTO: Facebook, Le monde plein leurs yeux. The children in Turkey (top left, bottom right) and Namibia (bottom left and top right).
The parents hope that along with the colorful and meaningful visual memories gained from traveling, the experiences will help their children prepare for challenging times ahead: "Traveling is something you can learn from. It's nice and fun, but it also can be really hard. You can be uncomfortable. You can be tired. There's frustration. So there's a lot that you can learn from travel itself," shared Edith Lemay (CNN).
She also hopes seeing other children and circumstances around the world will provide Laurent, Colin, and Mia, with some perspective and the opportunity to remain grateful: "No matter how hard their life is going to be, I wanted to show them that they are lucky just to have running water in their home and to be able to go to school every day with nice colorful books," adds Lemay to CNN. Their other child, Leo, has not been diagnosed with the disorder. They sat down with the four before leaving on the trip and devised a bucket list of some must-do activities per the children's requests. Camel and horseback riding made the cut, and it looks as though those can be checked off of the list.
PHOTO: Facebook, Le monde plein leurs yeux. The family is seen riding camels in the Gobi Dunes and horseback riding, captured in Mongolia.
With plans to return to Québec in March, the couple has been homeschooling their children on the road. Their journey has inspired educators, particularly a teacher at a specialist school in Quebec for blind or visually impaired students. She recounts the pictures and their captions to her class and follows them as they go.
Though the family remains hopeful that their three children may defy the odds and keep their vision, it is a waiting game to see whether a cure will be found in time. "We never know when it can start or how fast it can go," added their father, Sébastien Pelletier, in their CNN article. "So we really want to take this time as a family and to cater to each of our kids to be able to live this experience to the fullest."