Canadian parents embark on world trip before their child goes blind

Canadian parents embark on world trip before their child goes blind

Mia Pelletier is an eleven-year-old Canadian girl who was diagnosed with an incurable eye-disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) when she was seven.

People with this condition slowly lose their eyesight over time. This begins with their peripheral vision and slowly encroaches in until their central vision remains.

But it’s not just Mia with this condition, two of her three younger brothers also have RP. Leo, 9, and Laurent, 4, also have the disease, so the Pelletier family has decided to venture on a year-long journey around the globe to show their children some of world’s most iconic sights.

After a day swimming in the pools of Turkey’s Cotton Castle, Mia discussed what she saw with CBC Kids News.

“It was so beautiful. It looked like snow, except it was 35 degrees celsius outside,” Mia said.

While the degree of vision loss varies among people with RP, most of them lost the vast majority of their sight by early adulthood and are legally blind by 40.

“The hardest part is that there is nothing I could do about it,” said Mia’s mother Edith Lemay. Lemay was told to show her kids photos with lots of pictures to fill their visual memories, but she decided that “we’re not going to look at an elephant in a book — we’re going to go see elephants.”

Four years after Mia’s diagnosis, the family started travelling.

They went all over the globe and witnessed the wonders of the world: the dunes of Namibia, elephants in Botswana, hot air balloons in Turkey, caves in Zanzibar, and Victoria Falls in Zambia.

“It didn’t seem real,” said Mia of her excited state when she visited Namibia.

“People do that in books or movies. I couldn’t believe I was doing it in real life.”

The family plans to head to Mongolia, Indonesia and South Asia before the end of this year. This depends on what countries accept travellers due to COVID protocols.

Mia said that with so many adventures already under her belt, there’s one big lesson she’s learnt so far.

“Never trust the first image you have of a country,” Mia said. “Once you visit it, your vision will totally change.”

Featured Image: Submitted by Edith Lemay to CBC Kids News

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