Fávio Chavez

César was proud of himself. He sat on the floor and looked up, admiring his morning work. It was a long morning painting the nursery. He could now sit back and fantasize about how his child will grow in that room. What will be the spot to mark his height, where will the crib go, and what is the desired length of the curtains? 

His girlfriend, Sofia, arrived and sat next to him with the biggest smile and a pizza box. 

They lunched together, immersed in clouds of happiness and anticipation of the coming of Pablito.

After they finished this wonderful meal, they cleaned up and went on being happy.

Pablito grew up a happy child with a bright future. What Pablito didn’t know is that, before he was born, actions done because of him, that lunch in particular, were transformed into bits of happiness for other children to whom happiness comes in a more challenging way.

To be more precise, our story for today starts at the end of the pizza lunch, in the cleaning up. A can of paint, the wood that served as a pallet for the can, the pizza tray, and a lost fork was disposed among other items.  

These items, in particular, help to explain the work of Fávio Chavez.

If César wasn’t just a fictional character, he would live in Asunción in Paraguay, and the garbage there mostly goes to a place called Cateura, the biggest landfill in the country.  Cateura is also a community that exists around the landfill, and as you can imagine, the people that live in Cateura live very poorly and with very little. They use the garbage to make everything, including, in some cases, their homes. 

Many recycling projects are done around such an amount of waste and garbage. 

Fávio Chavez, an environmental engineer, was assigned to one of these projects. After eight years working there, Favio met the community, the reality, and saw what life was for those kids. Many of them didn’t finish school; they had to go to work as youngsters due to the poor economic conditions of the families; some of them got abandoned by their parents. So the project started as a way to keep the kids away from the landfill. 

The children knew nothing about music, and it was very difficult to contact their parents because many of them were not living with their children.”, said Chávez.

Fávio started working with the kids in 2006, and the community started seeing the effects that these teachings were having on the kids. There were even some reclaimed children by their families. 

This spread, and soon more and more children wanted music lessons. But, unfortunately, they didn’t have enough instruments. So Fávio and his friend Nicholas started building instruments with what they had around plenty, garbage. 

In 2012 the music school “Sounds of Cateura” was created, and with it, the community project called “The Recycled Orchestra of Cateura” and this was when the project started getting worldwide projection under the slogan “The world sends us garbage, we send back music.

 The orchestra today teaches classical music to the kids and youngsters that live in that community. 

The range of instruments they can create is incredible, violins, acoustic guitars, cellos, double basses, flutes, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, percussion instruments, you name it. 

In such a poor place, recycled instruments are the way to go. In some cases, the kids do not have at home a place to store their instruments. In some cases, a violin has more value than their home. So this was the perfect solution to teach music and keep everyone safe.

This project has been going on since 2006. The orchestra started in 2012. In 2016 the movie about it debuted, and today the music school of Cateura has its building to teach music for over 200 kids from that community.

The orchestra is supplying the world with a batch of better people. They know about music and understand that even the leftovers of the dreams of others, like César, can create instruments, music, and hope.

Recycled Viollin recipe: A can of paint, wood pallet, a pizza tray, and a fork

You can see here one of their concerts in 2021.