CTV News: May 7, 2014 - One might never know it by just listening, but the melodies of the Recycled Orchestra come from objects found in a garbage dump.
“I never would have imagined that I would be playing an instrument, much less one made out of garbage,” said bass player Brandon Cabone.
Cabone and other members of the Recycled Orchestra are from Cateura, Paraguay. The community is said to be one of the poorest slums in South America, and the more than 2,500 families who live there rely on trash as a means for living.
“They get up in the morning and they go to the landfill and they sort through it, looking for anything they can sell, use or recycle. And that’s their livelihood,” said Mike Duerksen, director of operations for the Global Family Foundation.
Three years ago, Favio Chavez, an ecological technician working at the landfill, noticed the kids needed something more. The former music teacher began making instruments with pieces of trash like oil cans, broom sticks and forks. Chavez started offering lessons with the makeshift instruments. Forty youth now perform in the Recycled Orchestra and 160 more are learning to play.
“What the orchestra is transmitting, besides music, is the fact that although you don’t have everything — you don’t have enough resources — you still can do something,” said Chavez.
The Recycled Orchestra is currently on a 13-stop Canadian tour, spreading music and their message. The group performed in Rosthern, Sask. this week.
“Whenever I am playing in front of other audiences and other countries, I think of my family back home and I get really happy because, slowly, we are helping the community move forward,” said Cobone.
The funds raised on the tour will go towards building a community education center in Cateura.
“That’s something that the community has identified that they want. They said, ‘We want this in our community. We want a better future for our kids. We don’t want them to have to sort through garbage.’ And one of the ways out of poverty is education,” said Duerksen.
The tour wraps up in Abbotsford, B.C. on May 11. The Recycled Orchestra will then return back to Paraguay to continue to play their music in the place where it all started.