In 2022, Genesis, 22, and her partner Jose* squeezed aboard a small, overloaded boat captained by people smugglers and packed with migrants bound for Curaçao, an island in the Caribbean 65 kilometres (40 miles) off the Venezuelan coast.
Seven months pregnant at the time, Genesis hoped for a new life working as a housekeeper where, despite living precariously on the margins of society, she could make more in one day than in one month back home. Anything she saved would be sent to her mother, who was struggling to provide food and clothes for the four-year-old daughter Genesis left behind.
En route, the vessel’s aging motor died in heavy swells and the boat began to sink; its 31 passengers including Genesis, who did not know how to swim, were terrified of drowning.
“It was horrible, a lot of water came into the boat, everyone was screaming,” she said, recalling the dramatic eight-hour journey.
“I was afraid of being eaten by the sharks, being crushed to death on the rocks, or disappearing at sea. I just cried, prayed for my baby, and held on to my partner.”