How it began: Several years ago, Favio Chávez was working at a massive landfill south of Asunción, Paraguay. He became friends with the families who live among the trash and work as recyclers. Chávez then figured out how to make musical instruments using the scraps of dirty oil cans, jars, wood, forks and other junk in the Cateura Landfill. He also created an orchestra with local kids as the members.
Chávez is a musician with experience forming classical ensembles. He initially put a few instruments together for the children who had nothing to play with. He was not planning on creating a brass and string section from scratch. After hearing the good sound that the instruments produced,however, he decided to perfect them. Using the help of a resident garbage picker named “Cola,” Chávez constructed smooth sounding, built-to-scale cellos and violins, an astonishing feat considering that he used only basic carpentry skills and scraps from the landfill.
Chávez’s orchestra now has 30 members and although is has been a big commitment for the children and their families, they have received worldwide recognition. They’ve performed several places such as Argentina, Brazil, and Germany. A U.S based film maker even made a documentary about them and their inspiring story.
The children and Chávez say that ultimately the goal of the music project is to educate the public about a world problem that they feel shouldn’t be ignored. Were it not for Chávez and the Landfill Harmonic, these children would never get a chance to learn how to play an instrument or be a part of an orchestra. To many of these children, music is a form of hope and a true joy. It is the best part of their lives.
“I made this orchestra to educate the world and raise awareness,“ says Chávez. “But it’s also a social message to let people know that even though these students are in extreme poverty, they can also contribute to society. They deserve an opportunity.”
This is an amazing video about the Landfill Harmonic. Please, check it out!