Beauty for Ashes

Violin made from trash

Violin made from trash

A popular video featuring young musicians from Cateura, Paraguay, making music from recycled trash touched my heart. The town of 2,500 families is built on a landfill, and they scavenge the garbage for anything of value.

Favio Chávez, an ecological technician and trained musician, came up with the idea of giving these children something that normally would have been beyond their reach: playing music in an orchestra. Knowing that few (or none) of families could afford musical instruments in a place where a violin, Chávez says in the video, is worth more than a house, he found the solution to the financial problem was literally within reach. The dump site itself was filled with material from which he could make several different types of instruments.

“One day it occurred to me to teach music to the children of the recyclers and use my personal instruments,” Chávez, 36, told Fox News Latino. “But it got to the point that there were too many students and not enough supply. So that’s when I decided to experiment and try to actually create a few. The world sends us garbage, we send back music,” said Chávez.

And that is how The Recycled Orchestra was born. The thirty-member ensemble has traveled around the world, performing in Argentina, Brazil, and Germany.

“My life would be… worthless without music,” one girl said in the video. Her life has been changed.

Graham Townsley, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and his crew are working on a documentary called Landfill Harmonic based on the orchestra. They hope to release the documentary by 2013.

“I made this orchestra to educate the world and raise awareness,” Chávez told Fox News Latino. ”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.”

I am reminded of Isaiah 61:3 “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”

I am inspired by these people who have every reason to give up, yet they make something beautiful and life-changing from the trash that has been thrown away by others. God does that with us, too. In the vernacular, “God don’t make no trash.” Every person is valuable to Him. He doesn’t give up on us when we have given up on ourselves. He takes the ugly things in our lives and uses them to make us better. To Him, we are beautiful.

Contributed by Robin Helm


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