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THE RECYCLED ORCHESTRA


In December of last year (2012) NPR told the story of a poor community in Paraguay has formed an amazing orchestra that plays instruments created from recycled trash. The young musicians in a slum that's built on a landfill. More than 1500 tons of trash gets dumped into the landfill every day. About 1,000 residents make their living by picking through the trash with long hooks called ganchos (hence the garbage pickers are called gancheros).


Favio Chavez, a young professional and musician, and Luis Szaran, a music conductor, have infused the landfill with warmth, dignity, and beauty. When Chavez saw the desperate poverty and dire health conditions at the landfill, he opened a tiny music school. He asked one of the trash-pickers, Nicolas Gomez, to make some instruments from recycled materials.


Eventually the students learned to play a small orchestra of miraculously redeemed instruments: a cello made out of an oil can and old cooking tools, a flute made from tin cans, a drum set that uses X-rays as the skins, bottle caps that serve as the keys for a saxophone, a double bass constructed out of chemical cans, and a violin made from a battered aluminum salad bowl and strings tuned with forks.


The "Recycled Orchestra" plays classical music, Paraguayan folk tunes, and even a few rock pieces.


Chavez claims that this amazing story has taught him at least one profound lesson: "People realize that we shouldn't throw away trash carelessly. Well, we shouldn't throw away people either."


We all know that the world throws people away carelessly. And we also know that Jesus redeems them, recycles them … gives them new purpose.

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