April 1, 2013
The Landfill Harmonic
This three-and-a-half minute video (preview of an upcoming documentary) will amaze and inspire you. It’s the story of a music program set up in Cateura, Paraguay, an extremely poor village where the country’s largest landfill is located. The townspeople make a living picking through garbage to find items they can sell. The children have limited educational opportunities because they are expected to work in the landfill, scavenging to help their family, or are left on their own. Some of them become involved in drugs and gangs. Favio Chavez, an environmental technologist with a musical background who had come to Cateura as part of his recycling work, saw the needs of the children and decided to set up a music program for them. But with instruments costing as much as the price of a house in Cateura, Favio had to find another way. He and one of the trash pickers began making musical instruments from parts of old broken instruments found in the landfill or from pieces of wood, tin cans, chemical drums, spoons, and other discarded materials. The dedication and creativity of these men is astounding, as is that of the children. You can read more about the upcoming documentary here. You can also watch the film preview and hear the orchestra on YouTube instead of the Vimeo link above. More information about the items being used to make the instruments can be found here. A Los Angeles Times article tells more about the background of the orchestra. See also their Facebook page where they will be making a big announcement today.