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Cousin of Uvalde shooting victim says lawmakers need to listen to survivor for change to occur

"They need to hear Miah Cerrillo out. They need to focus on her right now, because if they don't, this is never gonna stop," said Esquivel.

SAN ANTONIO — Tuesday marks one week since the family of Maite Rodriguez buried the little girl in Uvalde.

After Rodriguez's funeral, her older cousin Destiny Esquivel returned home to Eagle Pass. She said it's hard being back at home, and knowing what happened to Maite.

Credit: Destiny Esquivel
Destiny Esquivel poses for a photo with her cousin Maite Rodriguez.

"It's been really hard knowing knowing that I'm back home and not close to where she is. It's hard sleeping at night, but I mean, I do know she's at peace," said Esquivel.

Still, thoughts race in the 16-year-old's mind. She's worried about her family's safety and attending school.

"The question is are we going to do something about it? Are we going to let it happen? It's unbelievable," she said.

She doesn't want others to lose a loved one to gun violence. She rooting for the Uvalde families heading to Washington D.C. for a hearing with the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday morning. Survivors from the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, will also be there.

The parents of victim Lexi Rubio will testify before the committee on gun violence. Also speaking will be fourth grader Miah Cerrillo, a shooting survivor who used a dead classmate's blood to cover herself in.

"They need to hear [Cerrillo] out. They need to focus on her right now, because if they don't, this is never gonna stop," said Esquivel.

Committee members will also examine the 'urgent need to to rein in the weapons of war used to perpetrate these crimes'.

Esquivel hopes this hearing will inspire meaningful change.

"I'm not saying to take away guns. What I'm trying to say is you need more precaution to who you sell a gun to."

According to the Associated Press, Academy Award–winning actor Matthew McConaughey took center stage at the White House briefing Tuesday to call on Congress to “reach a higher ground" and pass gun control legislation in honor of the children and teachers killed.

During his speech, he spoke about Maite.

"Maite wanted to be a marine biologist. She was already in contact with [Texas A&M Corpus Christi] for her future college enrollment. Maite cared for the environment so strongly that when the city asked her mother if they could release some balloons into the sky in her memory, her mom said, 'Oh no, Maite wouldn't want to litter'."

McConaughey went on to describe the green high-top converse Maite wore. The little girl had drawn a heart on the right shoe because that represented her love for nature.

"These were the same green converse, on her feet, that turned out to be the only clear evidence that could identify her after the shooting. How about that?"

Esquivel feels she can do her part to help the community by returning back to Uvalde.

"I'm going to make this difference, not only for her, for all of the families and her friends. I'm doing this to make change for Maite in hopes to stop this or try and prevent it."

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