Updated: Mar 17
Barbara Aseda Wallington aka Lady B is a British civil servant, business analyst and devout Christian, who has a passion for helping others. Born in Tema, Ghana, she lives with her husband in Poynton, East Cheshire, UK but spent almost five years working in the Philippines.
She talks about the part she played in getting a Ghanaian woman released from a prison in the country and her latest project to promote female empowerment through her platform Obaapa (meaning a good woman) Ladies Club.
How old were you when you came to England?
I was in my teens. I first came to Northampton on holidays to live with an auntie, went back to Ghana and then returned as a student at Northampton College.
later graduated with a BA in Business Administration and Management 2:1 in 2004 at Northampton University. That was when I met my husband.
I have an MBA from Manchester Metropolitan University, where I majored in diversity, and have since developed an interest in promoting all forms of diversity. I also work with locals in my village, and MP David Rutley, the Lord Commissioner of the Treasury, to promote racial diversity in secondary schools.
So how did you end up in the Philippines?
My husband’s job in government involved lots of overseas travel and between 2005 and 2010, he was posted to Manila – the capital of the Philippines. I joined him a year later and lived there for four and a half years. Six months into my arrival there, I secured a job as community liaison officer for the British Embassy.
"It is a really hospitable country with a vibrant tourism sector and the people are genuinely nice. They are always happy and kind toward humanity, precisely what I stand for."
What did you do there?
I was responsible for looking after diplomats, liaising with the Diplomatic Services Families and Association, which is a division of the Foreign and Commonwealth Offices in London.
My role was to look after diplomatic families, conduct research on cost-of-living allowances, promote trade fairs and local charity associations. My work involved travelling across most of the South East Asian countries, including Hong Kong and Singapore, for training.
What is the Philippines like?
It is a really hospitable country with a vibrant tourism sector and the people are genuinely nice. They are always happy and kind towards people, whish is precisely what I stand for.
What parallels are between the Philippines and Ghana?
Filipinos are endowed with a rich variety of foods, creativity and beauty. They eat rice like in Ghana and loads of fish and seafood, but they don’t like spicy food.
Because of my work, I got to socialise with many people working for the Embassy. We would spend time on our friend’s yacht eating lobster at Bantangas beach, watching the sunset, laughing and crying and doing lots of karaoke.
What tourist sites would you recommend?
The Philippines is said to have about 7,100 islands. We only scratched the surface by visiting about 20 but my top four are: Cebu Island, Bohol, Tagatay and Nasugbu.
Cebu and Bohol are in the Philippines Central Visayas region. Cebu Island is surrounded by more than 150 smaller islands so there are lots of water-sporting activities such as snorkelling. I had my first ever snorkelling experience at Cebu.
Bohol is a province of the Philippines, which is known for its coral reefs, and unusual geological formations known as the Chocolate Hills. They get their name because these hills turn cocoa-brown in the dry season against the greenery of the jungle.
Tagatay is an island where you can go on walking tours, golfing, visit old landmarks such as Tukon Church or a village of stone houses known as the Chavayan Village, which has fantastic views.
Nasugbu is known for its white sand beaches. This is where the British Embassy had its staff beach house so I have several amazing memories of Nasugby. It was out of this world and amazing and the water was emerald-turquoise. As a result, it has become a special tourism zone and resort. I would often go there with my friends, Dita, Cynthia and family - those were some of the best days of my life.
Tell us about the Ghanaian woman you helped to release from prison.
While I was working for the British Embassy in the Philippines, I learnt about a Ghanaian woman who had been jailed for 20 years there for drug smuggling.
She was in her 30s when this happened and had visited Malaysia as part of a business trip when she was allegedly asked to carry a bag for someone. The Philippines has a zero-tolerance approach to drug smuggling and people caught receive a hefty sentence.
How did you manage to secure her release?
Ghana did not have an embassy in the Philippines, so upon hearing this, I conducted my own investigations - first through my hairdresser Ada, who was the niece of the then Nigerian ambassador Honourable Alex Dada.
Through that connection, I got invited to the residence and immediately enquired for a Ghana representative. I was given the consulate’s name so I pursued this with him. I wrote to His Excellency Honourable Daniel Abodakpui, who was the Ghana to Malaysian ambassador at the time.
He agreed to speak to me and we initiated negotiations. I organised an informal dinner with key dignitaries, ambassadors at my house in Manila where negotiations on her release were held.
Wow that’s amazing! Tell us more about her.
I won't say her name to protect her identity but by the time I met her, she had spent about 20 years in jail. I kept visiting her in prison with food, drinks and phone cards.
She seemed happy because, due to good behaviour, she had secured basic living quarters on the grounds where she lived with three other inmates. She made beads and spoke to one of her children – her son - once a week.
After a lot of back and forth and several phone calls to government offices, her release was secured about three months later. Once she was free and got to return to Ghana, I was able to keep in touch with her and her children for a few months, but then life got in the way and I lost contact.
What an achievement! So, you like helping people? I do. It has always been my prayer to be a blessing, from when I was a little girl and I have always seized the opportunity to do so. I have helped a lot of Ghanaians and people in general in many areas, but one area that has been most pertinent recently is in building people's online presence.
I help them to build a business presence online, develop their CVs, offer career advice, and interview techniques.
I also launched The Obaapa Ladies Club in January 2021, which aims to equip, inspire and empower women to create value in society. It is a non-denominational, non-discriminatory and non-racial group of women for women.
The platform has already tackled virtual discussions on developing coping strategies during Covid-19, boosting your presenting skills, mental wellness, how to set up a business and tackling relationship issues.
Obaapa Ladies Club has a charity arm, which donates resources to places including the Eye of the Lord Orphanage (Nsawam), and Tema General Hospital in collaboration with the Full Gospel Church International.
To find out more about Obaapa Ladies Club, you can follow their Instagram handle: @obaapa_lc.
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