In the slums of Cateura, Paraguay, everyday struggles don’t involve rush hour traffic, gas prices or unpaid vacation days. Rather, living itself becomes a primary concern, as poverty strikes this area of the world especially hard. However, within this community built surrounding a landfill, an extremely unique development has risen for its children.
Its residents, who recycle the trash of the landfill and sell it to make money, have constructed a full orchestra of instruments from these thrown away items. Now, the children of the community have formed a full orchestra and are able to play music together.
Thanks to the orchestra, we were in Rio de Janeiro! We bathed in the sea, on the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana. I never thought my dreams would become reality," said Tania Vera, a 15-year-old violinist who lives in a wooden shack by a contaminated stream. Her mother has health problems, her father abandoned them, and her older sister left the orchestra after becoming pregnant. Tania, though, now wants to be a veterinarian, as well as a musician.
The orchestra was the brainchild of Chavez, 37. He had learned clarinet and guitar as a child, and had started a small music school in another town in Paraguay before he got a job with an environmental organization teaching trash-pickers in Cateura how to protect themselves.
Chavez opened a tiny music school at the landfill five years ago, hoping to keep youngsters out of trouble. But he had just five instruments to share, and the kids often grew restless, irritating Chavez's boss.
So Chavez asked one of the trash-pickers, Nicolas Gomez, to make some instruments from recycled materials to keep the younger kids occupied.