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'See the world through their eyes': Quebec family on a quest to travel … – CTV News Montreal

Edith Lemay and Sebastien Pelletier touched down in Africa last week with a few goals in mind: over the next year of travel, the couple hope to introduce their children to new cultures, teach them about resilience, and strengthen their bond as a family.
But most of all, they want to give their kids as many “visual memories” as possible — memories they can cherish long after losing their eyesight.
“Especially big, wide space[s], because that’s something that they’re gonna lose,” Lemay said.
Speaking to CTV News from Namibia, the couple explained that three of their four children have a retinitis pigmentosa, a rare genetic condition which causes vision loss over time.
The problems began when Mia, now 11, was around 18 months old.
“We realized at night, she couldn’t see,” said Lemay. “She would bump into walls or furniture.”
It took a few years to get an answer. When it finally came, it was recommended Lemay and Pelletier test their other children as well.
lemay pelletier family 1 5838700 1648517695433Mia, Leo, Laurent and Colin will be homeschooled over the next year while they travel the world. (Edith Lemay/Sebastien Pelletier
Mia’s little brother Leo was in the clear, but the two youngest — Colin and Laurent — shared her diagnosis.
“We knew, because they didn’t see in the dark, other than Leo,” said Pelletier.
The deterioration of Mia, Colin and Laurent’s vision will probably speed up in their teen years, explained Pelletier, with about 10 per cent of it remaining by mid-life.
So the notion to travel — to see the sights while their children still could — only felt like a natural next step.
The idea came after a conversation with a specialist at the children’s school.
“Talking to her, she said the best thing you can do is to fill their visual memory, and she was talking about seeing elephants and giraffes in books. We talked about it and we’re like, ‘Might as well go see them for real, to build real, long-lasting memories,” said Lemay.
So far, the plan is working: only a few days into their trip, the children have already scaled the surface of enormous rocks, splashed in freshwater pools, and slept beneath starry skies untarnished by city lights.
lemay pelletier family 1 5838710 1648518910624The Lemay-Pelletier family are currently camping in Namibia, with plans to cross Zambia by train and head for Tanzania. (Edith Lemay/Sebastien Pelletier)
“We saw flamingos today,” said Pelletier. “They get amazed at anything. It reminds us that every little thing can be important and, ‘Let’s see life through their eyes.'”
Although the family originally intended to begin their travels two years ago, the ordeal was delayed as a result of COVID-19. But now, after careful planning — including learning the ropes on homeschooling — the family is finally off on their year-long adventure.
After stops in Ethiopia and Namibia, the group plans to cross Zambia by train and head for Tanzania. Eventually, they’d like to see Asia. 
“We would like to do Turkey and Mongolia this summer,” said Lemay.
The couple believes their travels will not only give their kids an opportunity to see the world, but to teach them about problem solving and gratitude.
“Travelling, yes, it’s nice. We see nice things but it’s also often really hard. We can be hungry, tired, frustrated, and have difficult situations,” said Lemay. “So we want them to learn to look at the solution, to look at the bright side.”
The Lemay-Pelletier family’s journey can be followed on their Facebook page, Le monde plein leurs yeux.  
With files from CTV’s Matt Grillo. 
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