The Landfill Harmonic
There are 2500 families living in a slum in Cateura, Paraguay. There home is a landfill: they survive by recycling some of the 1500 tons of solid waste that is dumped there every day—the garbage they live on top of. On rainy days their “town” is flooded with contaminated water.
Some of our grand kids are children. They will have spent today in a very nice comfortable environment, playing, listening to music and learning skills that will equip them for a happy and successful life. The children of Cateura will have spent their day collecting and reselling garbage.
But not all of them. Someone decided that if there was ever a place that needed music, it was in these slums. They looked at discarded oil cans, old cooking tools, broken furniture and saw violins, guitars and cellos—literally. Their vision has been translated into an orchestra in which children play instruments created out of literal trash, by their visionary and loving community.
Many of us who watch these videos will understand the value of some of the stuff that we needlessly discard and will commit to more responsible care and use of the material world around us. Some of us will understand that “we shouldn't throw away people either.”
Music will not eliminate poverty or injustice. But the music of the Landfill Harmonic celebrates the vision and the hope for a better world—for the children of Cateura, for our grandchildren, for all of us.
Hope springs eternal and it rides on the wings of the music from Cateura.