LAHAINA - Emmanuel Mbasha, a recent graduate of MWEKA Wildlife Management College in Tanzania, is traveling to Maui as an Ambassadorial Scholar through sponsorship by the Maui-based Cheetah Alliance.
Lahaina resident Bonnie Jean Blackmore, founder of the Cheetah Alliance, has been working with Mbasha since she met him at Ngornogoro Crater in July 2008, when he was a server at the lodge.
Getting him interested in the mission of the organization to connect the children of the world with one another and its creatures began Mbasha on his journey to assist and educate the public on the exotic wildlife of his native Tanzania and East Africa.
Seventh-graders at Sacred Hearts School have adopted a beehive in Kenya.
"Emmanuel was our first member," said Blackmore, "and he wouldn't give up. He pestered me until he became a part of my family, and through assistance for his tuition and computers through members of the Cheetah Alliance, he graduated with high marks last May."
One of those members has sponsored this visit to bring Mbasha across 13 time zones for his first trip on an airplane, so he can learn and help educate youth and adults about the serious issues facing wildlife habitats.
"It's not just Africa that is facing these challenges," said Blackmore, "our entire ecosystem hangs in a delicate balance. As strands become undone from genetically modified organisms, pesticides, poaching, drought and habitat loss, the whole web is threatened. It is not the extinction of exotic animals that is the only issue here - it is our own extinction as a species."
Sobering as these situations are, Mbasha is visiting on a mission of good will.
During his two-week "Maui safari," he will stay with Cheetah Alliance members, speak at two classes at the University of Hawaii Maui College and both West Side Rotary Clubs, spend the day at Sacred Hearts School in Lahaina visiting each classroom from kindergarten to eighth grade, and attend the annual May Day Celebration performed by the students of Sacred Hearts.
He has also been invited to journey into Honokowai Valley with Ekolu Lindsey and son Ka'elo to share the Hawaiian culture and the ongoing sustainability efforts for indigenous plant species.
Ka'elo, a seventh-grader at Sacred Hearts, is also involved in the "Bee the Change-Adopt a Beehive in Kenya" program in conjunction with Prince Sam Bansah, who is known as the "Beeman."
The students are adopting 52,000 bees at a penny each, as Prince Sam communicates and posts photos of the "West Side Hive" - as the students have named it - on Facebook and through the Cheetah Alliance website.
Prince Sam has also involved his daughters in the project, and soon the school will be connected through the marvels of technology, thus completing the mission of the Cheetah Alliance.
The Facebook group, "Adopt a Beehive in Kenya," has members from around the world contributing content on the challenges of bee farming in the face of widespread CCD.
A Harvard study recently released findings linking a pesticide to CCD (see www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/2012-releases/colony-collapse-disorder-pesticide.html). The Harvard study was able to recreate the CCD scenario in only six months, linking high fructose corn syrup laced with pesticide as the major culprit of the disappearance of over 90 percent of our bees in only five short years.
Prince Sam and Mbasha recently met at the Kenya-Tanzania border, so Mbasha could bring gifts from Sam for the students.
Blackmore announced that she will sell her Maui home and use the equity to buy land in Africa, then establish apiaries under the direction of Prince Sam in Kenya and in Tanzania to build sustainable eco-villages to educate and house orphans of the AIDS epidemic.
Those who would like to see Mbasha speak can attend the Rotary Club of Lahaina Sunrise meeting at the Pioneer Inn at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, May 1, and the Rotary Club of Lahaina luncheon at the Royal Lahaina at noon on Thursday, May 3.
All are welcome to attend the May Day celebration at Sacred Hearts School on Friday, May 5.
Maui Cultural Lands takes visitors into Honokowai Valley each Saturday, meeting at the train station along Puukolii Road at 9 a.m.
To learn more about the Cheetah Alliance, visit www.cheetahalliance.com.