Biking from Accra to Tamale and back: A mental health journey with the squad

Between November 1st and 11th, 2023, a group of five passionate Ghanaian cyclists, led by Michael Amankwa, also known as Don Milla, will embark on a remarkable 1300-kilometer bicycle journey from Accra to Tamale and back.

Accra-Tamale-Accra bicycle trip for mental health: Meet the Squad

Their mission is to raise awareness and funds in support of mental health.

Their motivation stems from a heartbreaking incident involving a mentally challenged woman near the base of Aburi Mountain in Ayi Mensah, whose tragic fate Michael Amankwa discovered and intervened in, though unfortunately, it was already too late.

This incident ignited a lifelong commitment in Michael and his team to ensure early interventions for individuals in need of mental healthcare, allowing them to receive care and dignity. Furthermore, their aim is to instigate a shift in the mindset of Ghanaians, encouraging them to look beyond themselves.

Michael firmly believes that altering mindsets is pivotal to cultivating a substantial community of solution-oriented individuals in Ghana and Africa as a whole. He envisions a movement that inspires a change in the collective mindset, propelling people to take action to address Ghana's specific challenges and contribute to the progress of the entire continent.

"This is a movement dedicated to reshaping our people's mindsets, and we will persist until we witness our communities taking positive actions to advance our countries and continent," he stated. "We want to challenge Africans to recognize their limitless potential and their capacity to achieve far more than they currently believe."

Don Milla emphasizes that the core of their vision revolves around encouraging people to pursue happiness rather than solely chasing wealth. He believes that genuine happiness can be attained through connecting with God, nature, and the act of reading, ultimately leading to the prosperity that many seek.

In an effort to prove that one doesn't need to be a professional to make a meaningful impact, Don Milla deliberately chose non-professional cyclists to undertake this challenging yet noble journey in support of mental health.

Now, let's introduce you to the members of this inspiring squad:

Michael Amankwa is a visionary business leader, technology expert, and avid hiker. He is the founder and CEO of Knoxxi Inc, a cutting-edge technology company that harnesses the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data analytics to deliver revolutionary solutions for businesses and consumers. In addition to his passion for technology, Michael is an avid reader and accomplished hiker, having successfully summited Mount Kilimanjaro, and tackled many other challenging hiking trails. He is also an enthusiastic cyclist who cycles frequently.

With a deep understanding of the role that technology plays in driving innovation, Michael is a noted speaker and thought leader in the African information technology space. He began his advanced education with a Bsc. in Business Administration in Accounting from James Madison University, followed by a Master of Science degree in Information and Telecommunication Systems from The Johns Hopkins University.

Throughout his career, Michael has been a driving force behind several internet start-up companies and has provided strategic vision and value-added services for various IT companies, meeting the needs of the private and public sectors as well as foreign governments. As the Founder of CoreNettLimited, Michael has led the company’s evolution from a technology solutions provider to a relevant value-added services partner, focusing on using cutting-edge technology to drive financial and social inclusion across Africa.

Michael is a firm believer in the power of technology to change lives and make a meaningful impact on society. As a visionary leader, accomplished hiker, and motivator, he sees himself as a driver of this change, working tirelessly to bring his dream of a better, more connected future to life.

Pious Hayford is a passionate architect whose life is intertwined with design and creativity. Since his early teens, he has been captivated by the structure of his environment, influencing his decision to pursue Architecture as his career path. After completing his National Service as a teaching assistant at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, he joined Mobius Architecture to shape the spaces we inhabit and design functional buildings that align with our lifestyles.

Delving into the intricacies of buildings and their inner workings, Pious finds great fascination in the details that make them function effectively. He has a knack for seeing beyond the surface and constantly makes worthwhile discoveries. To him, design is not just a profession but an integral part of life, with a belief that “Good Design is God’s Design.” Everything we interact with, from the moment we wake up to the time we sleep, is designed, even our very bodies, and he seeks to amplify the Creator through his work.

Pious finds inspiration in beauty, whether it’s in the surroundings or through the therapeutic act of reading books. Books play a vital role in his personal development, and he constantly expands his knowledge by purchasing books from various genres. His library is a treasured asset.

Music is another significant aspect of Pious’s life. His fascination with music began when he received his first Sony Walkman as a young teenager. Since then, music has been the backdrop of his experiences, adding depth to his prayers, design work, workouts, and even driving. Walking, cycling, and yoga help free his mind to explore new design solutions and better understand the capabilities of his body.

In summary, Pious Hayford is an architect whose life revolves around the art of design, a believer in the importance of good design in all aspects of life, and a seeker of inspiration from the beauty that surrounds him. His passion for architecture and creativity shines through his work and his unwavering dedication to exploring and understanding the world around him.

Julius Richardson, a passionate music enthusiast and educationist, is dedicated to cultivating an early appreciation for classical music. His journey began with a love for the piano, leading him to pursue the ABRSM program, achieving a DipABRSM level in performance. Simultaneously, he excelled academically, earning a BSc. in Electrical Engineering from KNUST.

Julius’s expertise expanded as a pioneering member of the Network Operating Centre at KNUST, contributing to the deployment of the first fiber optic infrastructure on campus. He then ventured into software and product development, exploring cutting-edge concepts in Java Beans and Enterprise Architecture at Rancard Solutions.

Building on his technology roles, Julius embraced an exciting transaction banking position at Ecobank. His involvement in developing the Transaction Banking platforms spanning over 36 African countries significantly boosted the bank’s revenue.

For the past decade, Julius has devoted himself to empowering underprivileged children and private students, nurturing their orchestral performance capabilities through the Genius Hive Foundation, which he co-founded. This initiative led to the establishment of the Accra Youth Sinfonietta, a collaborative effort involving talented performers from various institutions in Accra.

Currently, he’s focused on developing string ensemble capabilities in children through the SOS CV program. By 2025, his goal is to elevate all children in the program to a grade 5 performance level.

Outside his professional endeavors, Julius cherishes family life with his wife and two boys. Recently, he has embraced the challenge of mental and physical well-being, incorporating daily hiking, cycling, and swimming into his routine.

Anita Solomon is a dedicated professional who currently holds the position of Head of Business Development Services at the Development Bank of Ghana. In this role, she plays a crucial part in driving business growth and establishing strategic partnerships to support the bank’s development finance initiatives.

Anita’s educational background includes a Bachelor’s degree in English and Sociology from the University of Cape Coast, which provided her with a solid foundation in understanding human behavior and societal dynamics. She furthered her studies by obtaining a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Development Administration and Planning from University College London, specializing in strategic planning and organizational development.

With her extensive experience in the investment management industry and her expertise in human capital management, Anita is well-suited to navigate the complexities of the development finance space. Her profound understanding of organizational development and planning, combined with her unwavering commitment to driving positive change, makes her a valuable asset to the bank and its objectives.

Anita harbors a strong aspiration to become a domain expert and a leader in the development finance field. Her passion for creating a meaningful impact on socio-economic development motivates her to continuously expand her knowledge and refine her skills in this specialized area. Armed with her exceptional leadership abilities and strategic mindset, she strives to shape the future of development finance and contribute to sustainable growth on a larger scale.

Beyond her professional endeavors, Anita finds fulfilment in various personal interests. She loves engaging in regular exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Traveling and exploring new places broaden her horizons and provide her with fresh perspectives. Additionally, cooking and baking are creative outlets through which she enjoys experimenting with flavors and sharing delightful meals.

Anita’s devotion to her family is unwavering. She has two incredible children named Yaa and Kofi, who occupy a central place in her life. They are her greatest source of joy and inspiration, and she cherishes the opportunity to nurture and guide them through life’s adventures.

Overall, Anita Solomon’s determination, educational background, experience, expertise, and personal interests make her a formidable professional and a loving mother, positioning her on a promising path toward becoming a respected leader in the development finance space while finding fulfillment in her personal pursuits.

Enoch Agblevor, a 25-year-old Ghanaian hailing from Aflaoin the Volta Region. On January 16, 2020, Enoch applied for a Security job in Greater Accra, which led to a pivotal moment in his life. The very next day, he made the courageous decision to leave his hometown and embark on a new journey in Accra.

On the 18th of that same month, Enoch began his work as a Security Guard at Chremartin Ville, an experience that has now spanned three years. Through this role, he has gained invaluable experiences and had the opportunity to interact with notable individuals such as officers, lawyers, and accomplished professionals.

When it comes to sports and athletics, Enoch’s passion lies in cycling. He finds great joy and fulfillment in this activity, as it not only enhances his energy and strength but also keeps him active and fosters a sense of unity among individuals. Cycling is not just a hobby for Enoch; it keeps him physically fit and mentally invigorated.

Enoch’s ultimate aspiration is to become a champion, and he fervently prays for it day and night. He acknowledges that this path will require immense dedication, hard work, and personal sacrifices. Nevertheless, Enoch remains steadfast in his determination to achieve his dream and earn the title of champion.

In 2017, Enoch took the BECE exams and was admitted to St. Paul’s Senior High School. Unfortunately, due to financial constraints, he couldn’t complete his education there. Nonetheless, Enoch’s talents were recognized when he emerged victorious in the javelin competition for his school, earning a well-deserved certificate.

Enoch’s favorite storybook is “The Cock Crows,” which holds a special place in his heart. It serves as a source of moral lessons and brings him great happiness whenever he immerses himself in its pages.

When it comes to movies, one film that has deeply resonated with Enoch is “Nelson Mandela.” Through this movie, he has gained a profound understanding of South Africa’s history, fostering a deeper appreciation for its significance.

Enoch Agblevor’s journey is one of determination, passion, and resilience. With each passing day, he eagerly embraces new opportunities, overcomes challenges, and continues to script his own inspiring story.

There are two coaches on the trip and they are professional bikers:

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