When Soledad Reyes first heard about a training opportunity at Lundin Gold’s Fruta Del Norte mine in Ecuador, she was a little apprehensive.
She wanted to provide for her family – the 27-year-old supports herself, her mother who suffers from health complications, and her younger sister – but she was nervous about the prospect of working in a mine, with heavy machinery, and with mostly men. Today, she’s proud to say she’s overcome her fears.
When she first entered the training facility and saw the intimidating equipment, she admits she wanted to turn back. “But little by little, I realized that I was in a safe place, that I had the skills to do it,” Soledad said. “I decided to overcome that fear. I succeeded, and now I feel very happy and safe in my work.”
Soledad was one of about 306 students from the Training for Operations Program, a two-year partnership between Lundin Gold and the Lundin Foundation. The program provided structured classroom learning, state-of-the-art technology, and hands-on training in process plant and underground operators for students from the Zamora-Chinchipe region. About 90 percent of graduates like Soledad have obtained employment at the Fruta del Norte mine.
It was during this training that Soledad “realized that [mining] was not that difficult” and in fact, she felt a strong drive to excel at it. As soon as she finished training, mine management immediately called her to sign a contract and commence work. “What makes me feel proud is having proven that I have the skills and abilities,” she said.
85% of graduates are employed at FDN
$4M in wages for employees that live in surrounding communities
Now, her coworkers look to her for the type of strength and motivation she found in herself. “Today, I can guide and support my co-workers to [operate the machinery] the right way. I’m proud to be a woman and to have achieved this.” Today, over 15 percent of the mine workers are women like Soledad.
“I love my job, I love what I do, especially because it is very dynamic,” she says. “I don’t get bored because every day is different, and I enjoy it a lot.” She plans to continue working at the mine for a long time and to learn to operate other equipment: Jumbo, Bolec, Simba, for starters.
“This program has changed my life,” says Soledad. “I have changed myself, as a person and as a woman. I feel stronger than before, braver and empowered. In addition, I’m grateful because the income from my work has improved the quality of life for my family and for myself.”
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