In Los Encuentros, a remote community in southeastern Ecuador, 28-year-old Jenny Alejandro struggled to make a living as a beauty professional. The work’s instability and low income made it difficult for her as a single mother to consistently provide food, clothing and education for her three children, Anahi, 14, Anthonny, 11, and Alexa, 3. “I’d like to work hard so they can always have food on the table, and the opportunity to study and become professionals when they grow up,” she says.
Roughly 1 hour east of Los Encuentros, Lundin Gold’s Fruta del Norte (FDN) mine was gearing up for operation. Slated to begin production at the end of 2019, the mine would need 700 to 800 workers, which, in the interest of long-term community investment, Lundin Gold wanted to be primarily local and indigenous Shuar peoples. Since Fruta del Norte is Ecuador’s first underground mine, no relevant training facilities existed, so Lundin Gold partnered with the Foundation in 2018 to create a six-month Training for Operations program. Of the initial 315 trainees of three cohorts, 50%were unemployed or underemployed and 48 were female—Jenny was one of them.
While she had an interest in mining, Jenny was initially trepidatious about pursuing a career she’d thought was strictly for men, as well as working the heavy machinery herself. But by the end of the program, she felt dramatically different, “I’ve gained a lot of confidence in myself. I not only feel happy to operate equipment, but I also feel excited when I’m inside a truck’s cabin.”
“I’ve gained a lot of confidence in myself. I not only feel happy to operate equipment, but I also feel excited when I’m inside a truck’s cabin.”
Jenny’s cohort graduated in March 2019. Of 111 graduates, 110 were offered employment with Lundin Gold, including her, as a mine truck operator with a starting income twice the national minimum wage.
97% Graduation Rate
215 Employed at FDN
86% Experience income increase
While providing a better life for her children was Jenny’s main motivation for joining the program, she also found personal fulfillment through it. “[The program] allowed me to believe in myself and all that I was capable of, which I would have never even dreamed before,” she says. She also has words of encouragement for others looking to break new ground. “My message to other women is to keep the motivation high and believe in themselves. There are so many things that women can do and that we are capable of. I’ve been able to obtain what I wanted through my own merits—that’s a great feeling.”
“[The program] allowed me to believe in myself and all that I was capable of, which I would have never even dreamed before.”
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