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Building an Orchestra of Hope

How Favio Chavez Taught Children

to Make Music From Trash



Eerdman's Books for Young Readers

(pub.10.25.2022) 44 pages

Author: Carmen Oliver

Illustrator: Luisa Uribe

Character: Favio Chavez


" In Cateura, Paraguay, a town built on a landfill, music teacher Favio Chavez longed to help the families living and working amid the hills of trash. How could he help them find hope for the future? Favio started giving music lessons to Cateura’s children, but soon he encountered a serious problem. He had more students than instruments!

But Favio had a strange and wonderful idea: what if this recyclers’ town had its own recycled orchestra? Favio and Colá, a brilliant local carpenter, began to experiment with transforming garbage into wonder. Old glue canisters became violins; paint cans became violas; drainpipes became flutes and saxophones. With repurposed instruments in their hands, the children of Cateura could fill their community—and the world—with the sounds of a better tomorrow."

Tantalizing taste:

" In a vacated school yard, Fabio taught thirty children how to play their recycled instruments, and how to read music... During the rainy season, they shuffled into the deserted classrooms, and Favio conducted. They practiced and practiced and practiced. Finally, the time came to perform for their parents, who had never heard the children play... Parents shed happy tears."

And something more: The back matter of the book states that "Today, the orchestra has performed in many countries including Argentina, Canada, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and the United States... In April 2018, the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura participated in a charity concert in Spain and earned money to help build a community health center in Banado Sur. The orchestra has also worked to bring more art and culture into the area with mosaics splashed on building walls...They work to make connections between different worlds and improve the lives of those who live and breathe and make music in Paraguay. As Favio has said: 'Music is the bridge.'"


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