Beautiful things abound in the world, from breathtaking natural landscapes to a basket full of young puppies wiggling to get closer to their mom.
Like many parents, Edith Lemay and Sebastien Pelletier of Montreal, Canada, want their children to take in everything that the world has to offer in terms of sights, sounds, and experiences. Time is too short for them, so they are trying to experience as much of the world as they can before three of their four kids go blind.
Mia, the daughter of Edith and Sebastien, was identified as having the uncommon hereditary disease retinitis pigmentosa. By the time they reach adulthood, the majority of those who have this illness are completely blind. Two of their three boys later had the same diagnosis.
Their parents opted to pack as many visual experiences into their remaining visible years as they could because the bulk of their children were rapidly losing their vision and the future was unknown.
Edith said: “I thought, ‘I’m not going to show her an elephant in a book, I’m going to take her to see a real elephant”. “And I’m going to fill her visual memory with the best, most beautiful images I can.”
They had originally intended to depart in July 2020, but the COVID-19 epidemic caused them to postpone their departure by two years. They departed from Montreal in March 2022 and intend to travel for a whole year.
Each family member added to a “bucket list” of places and things they wished to experience before they departed.
Africa was the first location they traveled to. They traveled to Tanzania, Zambia, and Namibia.
After that, they traveled to Turkey, where they spent a full month. Indonesia was the next country, then Mongolia. The family encountered bad weather, cranky people, and other small inconveniences while traveling. According to Edith and Sebastien, these experiences are also beneficial and will make the youngsters stronger as their vision continues to deteriorate.
Edith shared: “They’re going to need to be really resilient throughout their life. 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.”
Since starting their adventure, the family has seen that their children are maturing and connecting in ways they never could have anticipated. The children are open-minded, welcoming of different cultures, and even ready to taste foreign cuisine.
They want to teach the kids appreciation for their numerous blessings in everyday life while also exposing them to things they wouldn’t often see at home.
Edith confided: “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.”
Before their children lose their vision, Edith and Sebastien are still holding out hope that scientists will discover a solution. If not, they are confident that their journeys will enable their children to experience a visual voyage in their memory!