Five years after Gervens’ move back home, God continues to bring harmony to his life through family, music, and education.
It’s been nearly five years since Gervens was reunited with his family after seven years apart. Looking back, it’s difficult to believe he spent a significant portion of his childhood growing up at the Lighthouse without them. Though a severance from his biological parents was not necessarily God’s design, He worked all things out for his good, repairing brokenness in the process and restoring what was always meant to be: a beautiful harmony.
One of four children, including a twin sister, Gervens was born visually impaired, which in Haiti, equates to worthlessness. Those who are disabled are often made to believe their lives are lesser than, a standard set by none other than sheer ignorance. Special needs programs and services are few and far between, evidenced in Gervens’ case as funding for his particular school over the past eight years has been incredibly inconsistent. Some years, he wondered whether or not he would be able to return at all.
After struggling in school alongside his peers at the Lighthouse for a few years, Gervens was officially enrolled in Saint Vincent in the fall of 2013, a school for students just like him, where he instantly caught the attention of his teachers. Without fail, each semester, he’d bring home a report card filled with accolades, often noting his top placement in the class. For the first time in his life, he not only compensated for those negative stereotypes, but he excelled. It became obvious from the shift in his daily demeanor that he had discovered a newfound confidence, waiting to be untapped. He stood taller, his eyes gleamed brighter, and a smile occupied his face more often than not.
While his enrollment in school propelled him forward academically, it was his innate gift for music that truly brought him to life. From a young age, Gervens was constantly tapping tables with his fingers like drum sticks, making a rhythm from nothing and turning it into something beautiful. He not only heard music, he felt it.
When he was about ten years old, he got his hands on a tiny battery-operated keyboard. It had no more than two octaves, at best. Small enough to fit on his lap, he’d play notes and chords and make songs from ones he heard and others he developed on his own. It wasn’t long before he began asking for a real keyboard, one with 88 keys. After many patient months, he received the very thing for which he had longed. Finally, a full-size keyboard.
With the help of his gracious teacher, he began making music. Some might even consider him a prodigy. If ever he was home from school, one could hear melodies reverberating throughout the house coming from his bedroom. In fact, it was this very sound that initially reconnected him and his father in March 2015.
Gervens’ dad, Gideon, had come by the house one day because his signature was required for paperwork. When he entered the foyer, he heard the sound of a piano from upstairs. A musician himself, his curiosity lured him up the stairs to find none other than his son. He sat beside him on the bench for the first time in five years as his own fingers graced the glossy keys. And together, they played. A sigh of relief, at last.
That was the moment everything changed. Walls which had been built slowly collapsed as bonds were reconstructed. Over the course of the next two years, Gervens’ visits to his parents turned from afternoons, to overnights, to weekends, to weeks and finally, to forever.
There are many misconceptions about why parents give their children away. Most of the things you will hear simply aren’t true. Often, a parent is faced with the devastating choice of giving his or her child away, not out of a lack of love, but because of love. Gideon and Vivian, Gervens’ parents, never imagined they’d spend so many years apart from their youngest son. But life is complicated, especially in Haiti, where necessity often trumps choice.
Gervens spent one final birthday at the Lighthouse in 2017, on February 14th. His parents came. It was emotional as all of the kids prepared for goodbye. Change is never easy, particularly when you’ve endured so much adversity at such a young age. And yet, it was also a time of celebration and redemption, faith restored. Gervens was ready to go home.
Today, Gervens is 18 years old and has just six years left of school, a feat he never imagined he’d accomplish all those years ago. He has since learned many more instruments, thanks to his talented father, including (but not limited to) the guitar and the accordion. Hand him an instrument and he will likely learn to play it. He’s joined by his twin sister and his two older brothers, who all live together under one roof again.
To say the past few years have been challenging would be an understatement. Amidst political instability, increasing inflation, and now a rise in gas prices due to a nationwide shortage, obstacles have just become a normal part of everyday life. Some days, Gervens has no transportation to get to school because his designated motorcycle can’t find fuel. Other days, aggressive political protests fill the streets, forcing him to stay home.
And yet, he still hopes because he must. He wants to study music science after he graduates and pursue a career in the industry as a producer, a noble aspiration.
If anyone is able, Gervens is as he has proven time and time again that trials are merely temporary roadblocks to accomplishment, minor chords making the symphony God is writing with his life all the more beautiful.