Cooking over a wood fire is a novelty that we might enjoy occasionally when camping. But imagine cooking that way every day, rain or shine, for a large group. That’s what Senora Facunda does.
Facunda is an 82-year old Mayan grandmother. She’s the matriarch in an extended family living in a group setting that includes 15 children and several adults.
Facunda’s outdoor cooking area includes a cement floor, a grate over concrete blocks and a couple large pots, blackened by the fire. She struggles to keep her kitchen functioning throughout the hurricane season’s wind and rain. When the fire goes out, there’s no food for the family.
Friends of Cozumel volunteers offered help to Facunda by purchasing lamina—tin roofing material—to surround her kitchen area, protecting it from the elements. They also installed overhead lights in the kitchen and near the room where she sleeps.
The children were excited to try out their English hellos when the FOC volunteers (los gringos) arrived. As the tin was installed, the kids covered their ears to soften the noise of the grinder’s cutting wheel and the drill.
“This fix may seem a little rough,” said Gary, a volunteer from Nebraska. “But the senora was happy and grateful that she’ll be able to keep the fire burning in bad weather. We’re trying not to impose our own values here; we’re just offering to help with things that will make her life a little better.”
“Food is not just fuel. Food is about family, food is about community, food is about identity. And we nourish all those things when we eat well. “ ~ Michael Pollan