His survival depended absolutely on my care, and I had an obligation to do it well. I felt and assumed that much responsibility and commitment with Sacha, and that’s carried over to each one of the 2,500 animals that have come into the Sacha Project's care since.
I’m proud to help these people, who often have no other options. We all deserve to make a living and support our families, regardless of our pasts.
As we fled, I harnessed my adrenaline and continued to alert the world to my experiences and fundraise to aid other Africans trying to escape Ukraine. I created threads documenting the ordeal and resources to help refugees and fact-check information being shared about the war.
I silently prayed, waiting in fear for whatever was about to happen. A few minutes later, I felt a sharp pain in my genital area as my flesh was cut off. They gave me no painkillers or anesthesia as they cut; the pain overwhelmed me, and I lost all my strength.
It was a terrible, sinking feeling to be in such a remote place, several days away from the mainland, and look out from our boat deck and see large plastic objects bobbing around: balloons, buoys, even a punctured ball. We were in the middle of nowhere, yet there was always something floating near us and microplastics in our water samples.
I feel satisfied and so happy to be improving people's lives with our winning idea, contributing my grain of sand. It was a challenge for my teammates and me, but we are proud of the result.
That what I want to promote among the Mayas. I want them to feel the same as me when I return to my hometown: the happiness, safety and acceptance that comes from arriving at my house, of visiting my mother, of enjoying the food. I want Maya culture to feel like a homecoming to those who have been away.
All of these achievements have come because of, not in spite of, my rural upbringing. Those tough lessons allow me to be of service—not just to women and children, but to an entire nation.
To leave when Afghanistan needs more help than ever would have been a real betrayal. If I had also left, who would stay?
Out on the street, I saw that someone had spray painted “Gay Journalist” in big letters across my car. I felt myself sink down into what would become months of depression.
María Lucía Barrueta started out writing a fashion blog, then moved into producing brands, and is now a consultant for Samsung Latin America.
When I heard that the Heart Beat Bill [banning abortion as early as six weeks in Texas] was signed into law, it was like a brick breaking the wall. I felt a need to make a speech.