It’s much easier to become a musician, artist, mathematician or scientist if you have the tools to learn and the opportunities to excel. But what if you had neither of these necessities? What if you lacked the funds to buy a violin, the market to acquire a paint brush or the text book to learn science? Certainly, many people would quit despite their passions in music, or their deep seated love for science and math. But then there is that rare group of individuals who will not give up, individuals that despite their circumstances, pursue their dreams.
The Landfill- harmonic, an orchestra consisting entirely of recycled instruments, has exactly these kinds of individuals. Perhaps you can guess from the name of their orchestra where these musicians live- in a slum built on a growing landfill within the poverty-stricken city of Cateura, Paraguay. Their instruments are built out of the very same garbage they find in the landfill- empty oil cans, scraps of metal and tossed chunks of wood- anything and everything is fair game. You would be surprised to hear the deep melancholy tones coming from an oil can-cello, or the sweet melody of a scrap-metal violin. This recycled orchestra brings an entirely new meaning to the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” The treasure they give back to the world through their music is undoubtedly much greater than the garbage they transformed.
The video below details the Landfill-Harmonic’s journey. At the very beginning they tell the audience “The world sends us garbage, we send back music.” Its’ simple message reveals the power of overcoming poverty through music. It proves being an artist isn’t so much a way of living as it is a way of thinking. These artists used what little they had, and transformed it into something beautiful. They saw the world for what it could be, rather than what it was. I think we should all be a little more like the Landfill-harmonic orchestra, through our creativity, resourcefulness and ability to come up with solutions- no matter how desperate the situation. They inspire me to see the world through a clearer set of lenses.