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Apr 25, 2022

Operation Kingdom Gives Back to Barranco Students

On Saturday, the media was invited to accompany Miss Earth 2021 Destiny Wagner on a visit to her home village of Barranco. The visit, which was made possible through support from the Belize Tourism Board, was to give back to the primary school students at the Saint Joseph R.C. School located in the heart of the village. At the same time, we got to find out more about the village and the non-profit Operation Kingdom. News Five’s Duane Moody reports. 


Duane Moody, Reporting

Operation Kingdom was in full effect on Saturday, when Miss Earth 2021 Destiny Wagner returned to the remote village of Barranco to give back to the children and community. It is where she grew up and so the experience was nostalgic for the beauty ambassador, as the children performed and presented her with a gift.


Destiny Wagner, Miss Earth 2021

“It’s very sentimental for me because I grew up here and I see a reflection of myself in these children. So for me to come back and give back to my community, I’m hoping that it just inspires them to do the same thing.”


Destiny Wagner

Duane Moody

“Let’s talk about Operation Kingdom.”


Destiny Wagner

“So it is my nonprofit that my family, my parents started years ago to aid the children in the villages because growing up here we see firsthand that we don’t have the things that other children have outside of this village. So it is really important that we provide these children with so that way they can excel in the classrooms as oppose to excelling in the streets which would be the next alternative. So we really want to push education and let them know that their dreams are achievable.”


Through partnership with the Belize Tourism Board, the media accompanied Wagner from Punta Gorda to Barranco via boat. After a short walk to the Saint Joseph R.C. School in the village, a brief ceremony was held during which school supplies were handed over.


Evan Tillett

Evan Tillett, Director of Tourism, B.T.B.

“What she’s doing here with Operation Kingdom is in line with the vision of the Minister of Tourism who is on a mission to end poverty or to eliminate poverty in our country and so it is a perfect partnership. We look forward to continuing working with her on these initiatives and we have other initiatives that we will be working with throughout the year along with Destiny.”


Destiny Wagner

“I think that this area is often misrepresented or not represented at all and a lot of Belizeans have never been to the south; Punta Gorda and worse Barranco. And so I am happy that Belize Tourism Board is partnering with me and we are able to highlight these areas because they are so rich in culture and you know these people do contribute to our society – whether we choose to acknowledge that or not.”


The donation is much needed says teaching Principal Loma Rodriguez because it is difficult to access supplies for the institution.


Loma Rodriguez

Loma Rodriguez, Principal, St. Joseph R.C. School

“Barranco is a place where it is difficult to get so this donation will definitely enhance learning at our school. It will definitely help our students so that they can learn and they will be able to do better. When it comes to the cleaning supplies, we really need those. During the pandemic, we reopened school and we had to do a lot of hygienic, washing hands. We basically keep running out of supplies so we are very grateful for the supplies and we will definitely use them.”


There are currently twenty-nine students enrolled at the institution. The population is approximately one hundred and fifty. The event also brings much needed focus on the village, which for some has been forgotten, even though it is where musical legend Andy Palacio was born.


Evan Tillett

“We have now started a sustainable tourism desk at the B.T.B. and we’ve also started a cultural desk at the B.T.B.  What those two desks or portfolios are working on is how we can assist communities such as Barranco to be involved more in the tourism industry and to benefit from the tourism industry. So it won’t happen overnight, but we’ll continue to work to ensure that everybody has a role to play in the tourism industry and to benefit from the tourism industry.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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