No stranger to hard work, 21-year-old Gabriel Bugueño has held a job since he was 14. Now starting a family of his own, he credits his mother and grandmother for motivating him to become the man he is today.
When Gabriel’s relative told him about a job opportunity at the Punta Frodden plant, he leapt at the chance for steady, high-paying work. The Punta Frodden plant was borne out of a partnership of Lundin Foundation and Lundin Mining’s Candelaria mine in 2018. The initiative rehabilitated a local seafood processing plant to revitalize artisanal fishing in the area and generate local employment. In 2019, the plant was inaugurated, and 13 workers including Gabriel came on board soon after.
After a long day of processing the likes of sea urchins, scallops and Chilean abalone, Gabriel comes home, greets his partner, and dives into even more work. He’s taking night classes in computer science at a local university. His partner’s attending college, too, and he says studying together makes his packed schedule a little more enjoyable. Soon, they’ll welcome a new child into the world, and Gabriel feels very grateful to be able to care for their blossoming family. “I feel very proud of my work and what I’ve achieved at my job,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to buy a house and support a beautiful family.” Already, his dream is within reach.
Gabriel said that the plant has not only improved his life personally, but also the lives of his fellow community members. Though COVID-19 made 2020 a challenging year, the plant managed to obtain its first export certifications, secure 45 wholesale customers, support 58 jobs and successfully operate through the pandemic. The plant’s seafood has been well-received by domestic and international clients, and sales continue to grow.
Though Gabriel is modest, his coworkers say he stands out for his enduring work ethic. After starting at the company as an operator, he quickly received a promotion to the coordinator level. But when you ask him how he stays so committed; he just shrugs it off like it’s nothing. “There are some challenges at work, but I’ve dealt with them, and I’ve learned a lot: about communication…about the production process…and about how to be more proactive and coordinate more effectively,” Gabriel said.
At just 21, he’s already considering moving up to a managerial position. But with his newly acquired education and training, he knows doors will open for him all over.
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