Who hasn’t, as a child (or even as an adult: cue chopsticks!), made a crude instrument from something non-instrumental around the house or garden?
Thought nothing of it, did you?
But what if playing that fork-drumstick on a saucepan-drum became a transformative experience? Life-changing, even?
A few years ago, Nicolás ‘Cola’ Gómez, a Paraguayan rubbish collector living in one of the area’s poorest slums, Cateura (which is literally built on a landfill), not only decided to make instruments for the kids from stuff he’d collected from the dump but went one step further.
With the help of Favio Chávez, who opened a music school in Cateura, he started The Recycled Orchestra, in which a group of children learn and play music on upcycled garbage – instruments such as violins made from oil drums, flutes from water pipes and spoons, guitars from packing crates.
As you can imagine it has brought immense joy, fun, hope and focus to the children, many of whom were destined for a life of gangs, violence and drug-dependency.
Then, a couple of years ago, La Orquesta de Instrumentos Reciclados caught the attention of fellow Paraguayan documentary producer, Alejandra Amarilla Nash. With an eye for philanthropy and community service, Alejandra decided to film The Recycled Orchestra and some of its children and families with the goal of taking their story global.
Called Landfill Harmonic, the film is described as ‘following the orchestra as it takes its inspiring spectacle of trash-into-music around the world … It shows how trash and recycled materials can be transformed into beautiful sounding musical instruments, but more importantly, it brings witness to the transformation of precious human beings.’
Alejandra and her Landfill Harmonic team are continuing to film this year but need more funds in order to achieve their three main aims: to complete the documentary; create the Landfill Harmonic Social Movement and infrastructure to help other places like Cateura; and take the orchestra on a world tour.
Drum roll: They have only 21 days to fulfill their goal.
I highly recommend you pop on over to Kickstarter and read more about the people behind The Recycled Orchestra and the dreams of Alejandra and Landfill Harmonic.