Members of Paraguay’s Recycled Orchestra, playing instruments fashioned from items found find at a giant garbage dump on the outskirts of Asuncion, hope that young Bolivians will take inspiration from their example.
“The world sends us garbage, we send back music” is the motto of the orchestra from Cateura, a community that grew up around the dump.
Young people who were at “risk of exclusion,” found a refuge in music, orchestra director Favio Chavez told EFE in La Paz.
“There are dumps in my community and as I’m a member of this orchestra, I have it in my heart that any can I see is useful to me to invent an instrument,” 19-year-old harpist Matias Rojas said.
The orchestra takes bits of wood, cans, lids, pipes, spoons and buckets, among other refuse, and transforms them into everything from violins to drums.
“Music changes people,” Chavez said. “Music contributes many values that they perhaps don’t have in their environments, such as responsibility, sensitivity, commitment, tolerance, that develop when you make music together and that change, even if it’s gradual, is ultimately evident in people.”
Paraguay’s ambassador to Bolivia, Terumi Matsuo de Claverol, emphasized to EFE the importance of showing young people that “with a little ingenuity,” they can achieve great things.
During a workshop at a high school in La Paz, orchestra members explained how their instruments were made.
“It surprised me, it’s the first time in my whole life that I’ve seen instruments of recycled material. It’s very beautiful, it’s been a good experience,” student Jhosue Poma told EFE afterward.
The Bolivian students had the opportunity to work with the orchestra members, crafting tambourines, drums, a violin and part of a cello under the guidance of craftsman William Lopez.
“Now they have learned that they can make gigantic things with what they have at hand,” Lopez told EFE.
The Recycled Orchestra’s visit to La Paz included a concert at the Saka Churu municipal dump.