Drive to a Better Life: Diego’s Story
Our client, Diego Abraham Iniguez Fajardo is married with a small child. Diego grew up in Mexico in extreme poverty and paid his way through school on his own by working the streets of Mexico cleaning car windows and whatever other work came by. Diego heard of many uprooting to the United States to earn “American Money”. Seeing so many individuals from his town leaving sprouted the courage for him to migrate to America and left school right before starting the 12th grade.
He arrived not knowing a single word of English and with no family. With luck, he met a friend from back home who guided him to employment as an agricultural worker. Diego faced a complete culture shock and did nothing but work and go home. He worked day after day hoeing, planting, and transplanting in squash fields.
As life would have it, he met his, now wife, while working in the fields and formed a family with her. Together they worked to survive in this country and afford the cost of their child. While working in agriculture, he heard many mention “La Casa Del Campesino”. It was highly recommended to him by fellow co-workers who came to our office. At first, Diego was hesitant and very shy. He was found eligible for our WIOA 167, Dislocated Worker, and CARES Programs. He explained all the services we have to offer and immediately gravitated towards welding training. Tuition costs were split between the CARES and Dislocated Worker programs, while all supportive services went throughout WIOA 167 Program. He shared that he had always desired to become an official welder but could never afford to attend any school.
Diego’s main obstacle was his language barrier followed by his limited income. He failed his first attempt at passing CASAS testing to obtain training however, this seemed to serve as fuel to try and try again. He came to our office and was assisted with practice tests developed by staff and was provided with time to sit and review his English skills. After a week and with his high drive he passed his CASAS test and was scheduled to begin welding training at our Woodland ASET Center.
Diego now faced his second barrier, income. Diego and his family were hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic because his wife became unemployed. They were now surviving off Diego’s earnings as a farm worker and he was unsure if he could attend training. However, staff at the office informed Diego of the various ways he could be assisted to assist him while in training. His income, during training, would be limited to UIB benefits and his limited savings.
Diego dove into training with high motivation. He immediately stood out as he excelled as a welder. He successfully completed training and obtained his certifications with no issues. He is officially a proudly certified welder. He was referred to Clark Pacific, who were hiring welders at the time of his training completed. With a high drive, he set off to seek employment with them. He has initially turned away due to the language barrier. However, Diego was persistent and told the employer he was willing to work as a volunteer to show them his work. The employer agreed to this trial provision and allowed him to show up as a volunteer. After just two days, Diego convinced the employer with his strong welding skill set and was hired on 6.17.2022 as a welder for Clark Pacific working full-time 40 hours per week, earning $21.00 per hour! Diego continues employed and is very thankful to CHD for their help and motivation during his training. Diego states that his financial situation has improved, and his wife is not stressed about being unemployed.