The “Miles Ahead” Project
On June 14 2005, Barclays Group undertook an overland expedition from the Head Office at Canary Wharf, London, which culminated six months later in Cape Town, South Africa. The aim of the team, a crew of eight, along with Barclays staff in each country, was to make a positive impact on, and a meaningful contribution to, all the communities in which Barclays operated at that time. These include the United Kingdom, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Egypt, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa. In addition, the hope was to raise a million pounds for charity and touch the lives of hundreds of people en route. In Europe, the expedition was about fundraising for specifically chosen projects in Africa. This six-month journey, carried out in association with the United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF), celebrated a culture of caring for the community. The Project was branded “Miles Ahead.”
“Miles Ahead” Project was launched by Barclays Group as an initiative to support non-profit organizations in Africa by encouraging sustainable and meaningful community development. The Project Planning began in February 2004 to May 2005 and Project Execution from June 2005 to December 20. “180 degrees project” were responsible for conceptualization and Project Management. Barclays was responsible for communications, public relations, and fundraising activities.
The actual Project implementation and execution ran from June 14 to December 13 2005. The crew covered 30,000 km over 157 days and having traversed 17 countries with over 6,000 Barclays staff who were actively involved in 159 fundraising activities which raised GBP1,600,000. which spanned over five months and raised awareness for the various community partners, NGOs and causes that Barclays supported throughout the countries in which it operates.
The five-month-long event itself kicked off at Barclays’ new Canary Wharf headquarters in London, with a convoy of four off-road vehicles which transported a relay of teams comprising representatives from selected charities, Barclays’ staff, celebrities, and crew. The colorful vehicles painted in blue and white made their way from London through France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana, ending in Cape Town, South Africa in November 2005.
Events such as football, sailing, sponsored marathons and extreme sports such as bungee jumping and white water rafting, were held in each of Barclays-member countries to rally support and awareness for the charities. The communities’ activities saw the participation of government ministers, the bank’s customers and the public, invited to rally support for the charities.
Funds raised through Miles Ahead were channeled into sustainable upliftment initiatives on the African continent. The support focused on education, social inclusion, for example, street children and orphans, the environment, the disabled, HIV/Aids, and health issues. In Europe, this was achieved through partner organization UNICEF and its Girls in Education program.
Our Zambian Miles Project Manager was Mwaba Mwaba D. Mwaba (Not sure which one is the Last/Surname Lol) who together with the Executive Committee (EXCO) team coordinated and gave support to all members of the project team.
I was a member of the Miles Project in Zambia and ensured specific matters of safety and security were taken good care of. I had already driven 1,100kms from Lusaka to Nakonde Border post and made contact with and briefed all heads of security, immigration, and customs officials about the visiting crew. On behalf of the Bank, I single handily received and in the usual Zambian hospitality way welcomed the entourage from the Tanzanian side on the Zambian soil. I assisted them with immigration and security protocol entry formalities into Zambia.
I had to accompany the crew up to Projects in Chinsali, Shiwangandu, Mkushi, Lusaka, and Livingstone until we passed over the button to our Zimbabwean Counterparts at the Livingstone Bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The first Zambian Republican President Dr. Kenneth Kaunda was the patron of Miles Ahead. Barclays Bank Board Chairperson then Mr. Hakainde Hichilema (Yes the same HH) who later became President of the United Party for National Development (UPND) was part of the crew in Chinsali. I took an opportunity to take a photo with Dr. Kaunda at Shiwangandu in Chinsali. I was surprised to know that the man could still remember me after 15 years. He recognized me from the Anti-Corruption Commission days when I used to frequent State House on National duties. I always treasure that picture up to date and will do so for many years to come.
Kabanda Lilanda did Bunji Jumping in Livingstone. Simon Bota and I did White Water rafting covering the first ten dangerous water rapids on the Mighty Zambezi River in the Tourist Capital of Zambia – Livingstone City. That was a great experience and excellent exposure. That exhilarating and breathtaking White Water rafting on the Mighty Zambezi River did not go without a near miss. It was both hair-raising and jaw-dropping when one of the Senior Executive Members of the Bank fell off the air-inflated boat and was sucked down by the dangerous waters and thrown nearly hundred meters in front of our boat While everyone else was frantically looking for him at the back. Luckily, the life-saving jacket was still wrapped around him. It was clear that the man had gulped several cups of water against his will. Scary. Life and Living.