A Family [Re]United

May 23, 2017

Steph Duff

A tear slips down Gervens’ face. Lauren Neal, Jesus in Haiti staff member and respected partner of Back2Back, looks out among the children who have lived and grown alongside Gervens for the last seven years. The children at the Lighthouse Children’s Home register surprise, sadness, and wonder. The room quiets as they process the news.

Gervens shares he is being reunited with his family.

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“Gervens, blind since birth, felt defined by his disability,” shares Lauren. “His self-esteem was painfully low, he disliked having his photo taken, and he often hid when the Lighthouse received new visitors.”


Gervens’ slender fingers move fluidly over the black and white keys as the music is heard through the windows. His musical abilities improve each time he sits at his keyboard and his belief in himself is more evident. Gervens, who long struggled in school, is learning he has gifts worth sharing and, as a result, is becoming a teen learning his capability and worthiness; He recognizes he is designed with purpose.

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Gervens now learns in a classroom that suits his needs. He reads and writes in Braille and is regularly at the top of his class. “Gervens is constantly receiving high praise from his teachers,” shares Lauren.


Staff members will never forget the day Gervens’ father, a musician, came to the home. As he walked into Lighthouse, a melody filtered through the air. His footsteps stopped, and he was overcome with emotion; he hadn’t ever had the opportunity to hear his son play piano. Shortly after this initial visit to the Lighthouse, Gervens and his family began getting reacquainted.

“Gervens began spending afternoons in his family home and then eventually staying overnight,” said Lauren. “As time passed and we moved closer to reunification, he would spend school breaks with them.”

Lauren and Gervens were talking one afternoon during the reunification process and he shared he always thought he’d return home one day. Lauren began praying God would direct the next steps in the process.

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It was his wish to have a final birthday celebration with his Lighthouse family. He shared about his move that night as the children gathered to celebrate Gervens’ life. “We will miss him, but we are so excited for this next chapter of his story,” shares Lauren.

Gervens will continue to receive sponsorship funds towards his schooling and maintain relationships through both Back2Back and Jesus in Haiti Ministries. In his final days living at Lighthouse Children’s Home, Gervens shared a reflection with staff members:

Reconnecting with my family and spending time with them makes me feel more confident about my future. I am more comfortable. I feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted, because I do not doubt anymore they’ve always remembered me.

 I want to thank God because I have a good family that shows me how they love me when I’m with them.


On February 18th, Back2Back and Jesus in Haiti staff drove Gervens to his home. Emotions were high as they wished him well and hugged him tight, but hope was even higher.

Steph Duff is a writer, daughter, sister, and really loud laugher. By day she lends her voice on behalf of orphaned and vulnerable children with Back2Back Ministries. By night she is readily found with her nose in a book and spending time with her dog, Telulah. At all hours, she can be found consuming copious amounts of coffee. She feels most herself in the heat of India and prefers her mugs big, her books long, and her words intentional.

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