Smokeless Stoves: Modesta Maricela Jitatz Gui Gui

At sixteen years old, Modesta Maricela Jitatz Gui Gui is in charge of the family meals. Her mother, Liliana, just gave birth to her ninth child, leaving Modesta with the challenge of cooking for up to twenty family members, which includes her siblings, parents, cousins, and more when they return from harvesting their strawberry crop.

Despite what seems like a daunting task, Modesta embraces that challenge. She is particularly grateful for the family’s Habitat for Humanity Guatemala smokeless stove. Because of its efficiency and clean burning, the stove allows her to prepare more food for more people in a shorter period of time. Modesta says that she is thrilled that the metal surface heats up quickly to make large quantities of tortillas. Also, she only has to go out to look for firewood once a week.

Modesta says that she doesn’t miss the old stove, which is a complete contrast to her current one. She remembers that there was always a lot of smoke in her kitchen and that the old stove would eat up copious amounts of firewood. “It was two blocks with a grill stacked on top of it,” she explains, putting her hands out for emphasis. “There was all smoke and no fire. And we have to cook for so many people, so it was hard.”

The new stove only took about a day to construct. Modesta recalls that her father helped shape the blocks and that soon after, a group of international volunteers used them to help build the stove. “They spent the whole day working, until the afternoon,” she reflects. “We are so grateful to all that they have done, and we suffer no longer because of their work.”