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Photo by Landfill Harmonic

Photo by Landfill Harmonic

© 2012 Kebba Buckley Button.  World Rights Reserved.

An unusual chamber orchestra is emerging from Paraguay.  Both the instruments and the youth musicians come from  a giant garbage dump.  This dump is so large that there is a whole community living there and making their living from culling the trash.  An estimated 25,000 families live at this landfill.  The place is called Cateura.

Five years ago, a social worker arrived from an environmental organization dedicated to helping the dump community be safe and healthy.  Also a music teacher, Favio Chavez,  found the youth of the dump community often  restless, and he began to teach  them  music. He shared the 5 instruments he had, then began looking for more.  A garbage-picker and carpenter, Nicolas Gomez, repaired a drum he found.  Then came a guitar and a series of instruments actually made from cans and other found elements.  In April, an exhibition dedicated to this group and their instruments will opening at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix, Arizona.  The MIM has a collection of over 5000 instruments, displayed in ways that bring periods and places of music history alive.  It also hosts concerts and special events.

Favio Chavez and Nicolas Gomez have been recycling food cans and old x-ray films into musical instruments.  They have also been recycling children who would have spent their lives as society’s garbage.  The 20 children in the chamber orchestra have a possible way out of the life cycle of the dump.  Favio Chavez is saving lives with recycling. he is recycling a community.  He is building social justice at no cost.

The name of the orchestra is “The Orchestra of  Instruments Recycled From Cateura.”   A film is being made. There is some chance that the orchestra may also be playing at the opening of the exhibition, in Phoenix, at the MIM.  An extraordinary ensemble playing an extraordinary venue.  For this once-in-a-lifetime event, will you be there?

Learn more on two FaceBook pages, @Melodìas de Cateura and @LandfillHarmonic.


● Kebba Buckley Button is a corporate stress management trainer and the author of the award-winning book, Discover The Secret Energized You, and the 2012 book, Peace Within:  Your Peaceful Inner Core.  She is also an ordained minister.

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● Reach the writer at kebba@kebba.com .