Poverty Prevents Them From Buying Instruments, But That Doesn’t Stop This Orchestra From Playing

Adapting for opportunity.

Environmental technician Favio Chávez is just one man, but he's made a huge contribution in giving back to his community and his country. Chavez, the director of the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, takes trash from the town's landfill and turns it into recycled instruments for children who play music in the group. As the saying goes, "One man's trash is another man's treasure."


Cateura, Paraguay, is a city that practically sits on a mountain of trash. Its landfill gets trash from all over, including the capital of Asunción. According to his biography on the Go Campaign page, Chávez started a music school and began teaching music to the children in Cateura using his own instruments, but quickly realized it wouldn't be enough. Instruments can cost as much as a home in Cateura, so Chávez had to get creative and use what was within his means — trash.

Chávez elected the help of a local carpenter and trash worker, Nicolas Gomez. With Chávez's ingenuity and Gomez's carpentry skills, they made violins from oven trays; cellos from oil barrels where even the strings are recycled; saxophones and trumpets made from old drain pipes where the keys are made from coins and bottle caps; drums made from old x-ray plates; and a guitar made from dessert tins. Chávez has also made such an impact on his community that there is now a documentary based on his efforts called Landfill Harmonic.

Poverty is on the rise in Paraguay, and although it seemed like there was hope for its people back in 2013 and even last year, as it turns out, Paraguayan farmers are still being hit hard by inequity. Humanosphere recently published an article raising awareness about the rise in Paraguay's poverty rates. Poverty affects nearly 40 percent of the population, and according to the World Bank data, the total poverty rate is less than $3.10 per day, because the country's economy depends heavily on agricultural products in rural communities like Cateura.

Regardless of the circumstances, people like Chávez find ways to bring music and a dream to the children of Paraguay. We could all learn a lesson in being resourceful and resilient from a man like Favio Chávez, but if you'd also like to help fund Chávez's music education program, which is now up to 300 students, visit the Go Campaign page and donate.

Watch the trailer for the "Landfill Harmonic" documentary below:

And learn more about the orchestra in these short video clips:

(H/T: Humanosphere | CGTN America)

Cover image via CGTN America

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