Family goes on world tour to create 'visual memories' before the children lose their eyesight




Childhood memories matter and most parents try to create sweet ones for their children. A couple from Canada is going above and beyond. That's because three of their children have been diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, an uncommon hereditary disorder that causes vision loss or decline over time, according to CNN.
Their eldest daughter Mia was very young when she was diagnosed with the condition. In 2019, two of their sons Colin, now 7, and Laurent, now 5, were also diagnosed with the disorder. Their other son, Leo, now 9, did not inherit the condition like his siblings.

Edith Lemay and Sebastien Pelletier have concentrated on teaching their children the skills they would need to succeed in life. After Mia's specialist advised that they engross her with "visual memories," Lemay had a plan about how they could do it. "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," she said.

She and her husband began making preparations to spend a year touring the world with their children. Pelletier said, "With the diagnosis, we have an urgency. There's great things to do at home, but there's nothing better than traveling. Not only the scenery, but also the different cultures and people."

Mia, 12, who learned about her condition when she was 7, along with Colin and Laurent have now been asking challenging questions like "what does it mean to be blind? Am I going to drive a car?" Lemay said though the youngest one is only 5, "slowly, he's understanding what's happening. It was a normal conversation for him. But for me, it was heart-wrenching."

Their travel fund was topped when the company Pelletier worked for and owned shares in offered a bonus. Their schedule was interrupted by the pandemic and their original trip with an extensive itinerary that included ground travel through Russia and time in China, which was planned to begin in July 2020, began only this year in March 2022 but did not really have an itinerary to follow. The Lemay-Pelletier family made a sort of bucket list of vacation adventures before they left. Mia wanted to go horseback riding, while Laurent wanted to sip juice on a camel, according to Lemay.

They began their journey in Namibia, where they got up close and personal with elephants, zebras and giraffes, before traveling to Zambia, Tanzania and finally Turkey, where they stayed a month. The family then traveled to Mongolia before continuing on to Indonesia.

Lemay and Pelletier believe that the opportunity to spend time in diverse nations and cultures will remind all the children how privileged they are, despite the obstacles that may arise later in their life when their vision deteriorates. The mother added, "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."

The couple have been homeschooling their children while traveling the world. However, despite having a positive approach, the couple always have the diagnosis of their children on their minds. Pelletier said, "We never know when it can start or how fast it can go. 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." They have been documenting their journey on social media, posting regular updates about the people and places they encounter along the way.

The family will return to Quebec in March next year but they're not trying to think that far ahead. The father added, "This trip has opened our eyes to a lot of other things, and we really want to enjoy what we have and the people that are around us. If that can continue when we go back, even in our daily routines, it will be a really good accomplishment."




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