Cook Hilda Concepción.

The first days of the sugar cane harvest in the Velasco 20 basic unit of cooperative production (UBPC), in the municipality of Puerto Padre, were passing by, and in one of her plots, Hilda Concepción was working with a wood cooker. She was oblivious to the setback and the pernicious effect of the smoke and maintained her usual joviality in attending to the members of the Frente de Corte 1 (1st Cutting Frontline), of the Antonio Guiteras agro-industrial sugar company.

"They assured me that they would resolve the situation and I would return to the gas or oil cooker, depending on availability", she commented while preparing lunch for "my boys", as she calls her colleagues, most of whom are younger than her, and all of whom are integrated as if they were one big family.

For six years now, she has been sharing luck and challenges with this team that "works hard and struggles to meet the sugar cane deliveries to the mill", she acknowledges, and for this reason, she does the impossible to overcome the insurance problems due to the difficult financial situation the country is going through. She is well aware of this and faces the challenge with innovative passion.

"I always try to treat them well because I see them giving their all, every day, and that deserves praise and good attention, I even bring a few spices that help improve the taste, always looking for more quality. They eat it all and celebrate my seasoning," she said.

These and other reasons consolidate the responsibility with which she assumes her important mission, and it becomes a major force that helps her to leave the warmth of the sheets even on winter days at 4:00 a.m. and at 5:30 a.m. to start a shift that takes her away from the peace of her home for 24 hours.

She is now 64 years old and at that age, she could enjoy retirement, but her passion ignores the suggestions of family and friends, because she considers her work a necessary sacrifice, "I like to feel useful and I recognize the economic importance of the harvest and the importance of supporting all the workers who make it possible".

And because she takes pleasure in her work, these routines shared over the last six harvests, in this same Frente, encourage her to continue turning the fields and her colleagues into an extension of her kitchen and her family.

"I like being here and what I do, and taking care of the boys like my own children. That's why I continue to support them from the rear in their desire to harvest all the canes. It's something that pleases me," and that frame of mind fertilizes the collective well-being and her willingness to cook at the front.

“The difficulties of these times do not paralyze her and she decides to add to the daily menu, to extend it, "I boil food for them, I invent desserts to fill them up..."

Hilda knows she is indispensable in the group, but she does not boast about her position, nor does she lose her tenderness through the usual flattery. "They love me very much", she says, and these feelings are evident in the compliments expressed in her natural beauty, in the good human being she carries inside her, which she expresses with smiles, and in her willingness to please with a guarapo, a coffee or an infusion, which she even asks for as a foretaste of the dinner to come.