Pulling from her years of experience working in medicine, Dr. Marie Josée Dubois created Les Enfants GIOIA, a groundbreaking organization to help support families and children living with rare or incurable diseases.
Practising medicine since 1997, Marie Josée has worked in multiple fields—everything from psychiatry, emergency medicine and palliative care to family medicine. During her time working in palliative care for children, she saw how isolated and unsupported the families of children with rare diseases often are. She found that this area of medicine was lacking research, along with a strong sense of community. Marie Josée could see that the stress was taking its toll, as having a rare or incurable disease was depriving these children and their families of experiencing wonder, freedom and joy. In 2015, she launched Les Enfants GIOIA, a foundation that offers families support and connection while also being a refuge for learning and happiness.
Since embarking on this journey, Marie Josée has volunteered between 500 and 1,000 hours a year—including most of her days off—to Les Enfants GIOIA’s development and operations. This initiative is her passion and her priority. Currently, she’s working on a big goal for 2022: to create a sustainable nature centre as part of Les Enfants GIOIA.
With everything that Marie Josée has achieved in her community and all of the joy she has brought to so many children and their families, it’s no surprise that many call her their guardian angel.
LES ENFANTS GIOIA
Founded in 2015, Les Enfants GIOIA gives children, adolescents and young adults suffering from rare and incurable diseases, along with their families, the opportunity to experience joy through learning, play, wellness and companionship. GIOIA, which is Italian for “joy,” is a community and place of support where young people can develop at their own pace and reach their maximum potential.
Over the years, Les Enfants GIOIA has built up a team of professionals and volunteers who offer families free activities in nature and home wellness care, such as pet therapy, reflexology, massage and yoga therapies. From the beginning, Marie Josée recognized the importance of providing support for not only the child but the whole family affected by a disease.
Currently, there are 15 families at Les Enfants GIOIA, and with Marie Josée’s plans for expansion, even more families will soon be able to benefit from its services. Through this foundation, Marie Josée and her team have been able to connect with many children living with rare diseases, offering everything from a listening ear to much-needed support.