Mikayla Wehrle of New London traveled to Tanzania, Africa, in July with an international 4-H group from Canada.
A 2103 graduate of New London High School, Wehrle was the only delegate from the United States in the group. She is a member of the Sandy Knoll 4-H Club in Readfield.
The journey started in Dar Es Salaam where the group met up with the Tanzanian 4-H leaders. The first week was spent at the 4-H Center in Tanga, where they worked on leadership and spent time with the 4-H kids there.
“We talked about our 4-H projects at home and they told us about their projects,” Wehrle said. “We played games and answered a lot of questions about our own home countries.”
The group stayed at the center and traveled to area schools during the day.
“Traveling was interesting,” Wehrle said. “We traveled in a small bus and when we went up the mountains we would have to get out until the bus made it over the pothole and then we would all get back on and continue our trip.”
She said they were greeted with great excitement at each school.
“They performed for us with traditional music and dance,” Wehrle said. “We were able to go to some of their homes and see their 4-H projects, which were usually pigeons, chickens or a few pigs.”
“They have a community garden at the school because their yards are not big enough to have them at home,” she said. “We helped plant trees at each of the schools. They all work together to grow food as a community and share it equally. Clean water is a huge concern for each community.”
The second week the group toured different parts of Tanzania. They went to the Mount Kilimanjaro base camp, visited local markets and swam in the Indian Ocean. During the last few days they went on a safari where they saw elephants, giraffes, wildebeests and many other animals.
“Monkeys and zebras were seen throughout Tanzania,” Wehrle said. “It was amazing.”
From her experience, Wehrle saw their culture as “so happy and content.”
“They have so little and are eager to share what they have with strangers,” she said. “We were only able to eat food at the 4-H center because of their sanitation, but they always offered it out.”
“I learned how fortunate we are to have all the opportunities we have,” Wehrle said. “It is amazing to me how they can have so little and be so happy.”
“Their culture values family in a way I have not seen in any other culture.”
According to Wehrle, she was offered an internship at the 4-H Center in Tanga when she is done with college.
“I look forward to returning to Tanzania and hopefully being able to help teach them better agricultural methods,” she said.