One would have thought Samuelle Kerrey Romain was an adult, the way she stood before a group of Portsmouth area young people and told how things are in her native Haiti.
"Some children learn to do their own wash as young as six or seven," she said. Then, in case her audience was thinking she was talking about loading a Maytag, she demonstrated, by rubbing her hands together, back and forth, the way clothes are washed down on the river bank in Haiti.
She said there is only one river, where people bathe and animals drink from and pollute.
Samuelle, who's only 12, and her father, pastor of a church and of Good Shepherd's Love orphanage in Haiti, along with her mother, Merese Romain, and a niece, Gerry Yvette Blanc, were guests Wednesday evening at 14th Street Community Center, where Marsha Harris is youth programs director.
"We probably have 60 children from the local area here to meet with this family. They will learn more about what life is like in Haiti, and the Romain family will get an update on what things are like just now in America," Harris said.
Rick Phillips and his wife, Lois, also were at the community center to welcome the Romains and share with the local children the things the people in Haiti go through to gain a few of the necessities most people in the Portsmouth area take for granted.
Phillips, a minister with Bethel United Methodist Church in West Portsmouth, just returned from a missionary/work trip to Haiti, his sixth time to visit the West Indies island.
"The people live in terrible poverty, but money and workers supplied from American churches of different denominations are making a huge difference for some," Phillips said. "It's a work that calls for a continuous effort on the part of Christians everywhere."
Jean Romain told of leaving his orphanage for a short while to go and help victims of a disastrous flood in another part of Haiti. He returned with 11 orphaned boys whom he had no room for, but took them anyway.
"Sometimes people come by and just drop them off to us," he said. "The boys we get at the orphanage grow physically, spiritually and intellectually. We have had two leave Haiti for Panama University. Another is going to medical school, and still others are going for computer science."
He said he and his family arrived in the states a week ago and will travel as far north as Wisconsin visiting churches that support the work at Boc-Banic.
Also, he said, a new school and a hospital are being built.
Many needs will be met by establishing Good Shepherd's Love Hospital at Thomazeau, Romain said.
"Pain and sickness are two big enemies," Romain said. "In Thomazeau, there is one clinic for 30,000 people with only one doctor. One great way to show God's love is by caring for the sick. It's Jesus who brings us life and healing power."
Tax-deductible gifts to help with the huge task Romain faces can be sent to World Outreach Fellowship, 2011 West Marshall Avenue, Longview, Texas 75604, with a note on the check the money is for Jean Romain in Haiti.
Checks also can be sent directly to him at:
Rev. Jean Romain, Church of God Christian Fellowship, c/o Lynx Air PAP, P.O. Box 407139, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. 33340.
G. SAM PIATT can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 236.