A Story of Transformation: Recycled Orchestra of Cateura

posted in: Reaching Wide | 5

You’ve undoubtedly seen the commercials of kids exploring landfills in search of food.
You’ve likely seen videos from companies like Compassion International, bringing us images of children from faraway places like Burkina Faso and Uganda.

But you’ve never seen anything like this.

Last year, Bayside was fortunate enough to host the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura at our Special Christmas Events. Whenever we bring guests to Bayside, we aim to be hospitable and bless them while they’re here whether they are believers or not. We can’t convey what a gift it was when our guests spent their time in Roseville brightening our world instead. Our time with the Recycled Orchestra was nothing short of genuinely inspirational.

Over eight years ago in Asunción, Paraguay, an area made famous for its large and numerous landfills, an environmental engineer and musician named Favio Chavez began working on a waste recycling project at the landfill. Chavez soon noticed that the primary source of fun for the local kids came from playing in the Cateura landfill, where most of their parents work as garbage pickers. These children typically depart school at an early age, setting them on an unfortunate and almost unavoidable path toward poverty. Chavez decided to build a haven for these kids and created the group to teach the children about music, hoping that it would keep them safe and out of the landfill.

This group became a beacon of light in their community, providing a place for the children to explore their musical talents. The group continued to grow and soon there were not enough instruments to go around. Hungry for a solution,

Chavez and his friend Nicolas began to create instruments using random items from the Cateura landfill, taking what was once thrown away and transforming it into something beautiful with a purpose.


The Recycled Orchestra of Cateura doesn’t have a building. They don’t have PTA funded equipment or any of the resources other orchestras may possess, in fact, their instruments cost hardly anything at all. But what they do have is an incredible passion for music that has already changed the world in the few years since their talent exploded across the internet. What started as Chavez and just a few kids quickly became 35 young musicians. That, in turn, has rapidly grown to more than 200 kids from Asunción learning to make instruments of their own and music that will continue to change the world.

At Bayside, we want to spread light like this.

We invite people like The Recycled Orchestra of Cateura to play during the Christmas season to give you a glimpse of such light. Our hope is that you will feel it and go forth, creating light of your own and spreading God’s love.

It isn’t just the faraway places like Asunción that desperately need light, and it isn’t just people like Chavez who can bring it. God has uniquely gifted you to do just this. All it takes is a recognized need and someone like you to turn something discarded into music. To turn darkness into light. To turn despair into hope. What aren’t you seeing that could be made into music?

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5 Responses

  1. Carola

    Hi!, I’m an italian graphic designer, i’m work for Terre di mezzo editore, I’m searching a picture about Recycled Orchestra, I would be very happy to publish you picture in the children book about make instrument by ourself. Can you donate us the use of the pictures posted on this post? I will write the credits in the book.
    Tell me if you agree.
    I’m thank you.

    • Bri Lynaugh

      Thanks for your inquiry, Carola. I spoke with my team and we may need to have you reach out to them directly since the musicians are minors–so permission would need to be obtained from them directly to use their likeness. I just emailed you their contact information.

      • Janet Porter

        Hi Bri. I am a teacher in Nova Scotia, Canada, working for our provincial department of education. We are sharing the amazing story of the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura as part of educational programming for elementary-aged students and would be grateful to be able to include 2 or 3 photographs of the instruments being used in a feature about recycling. Do you have any such photos that can be shared? I can provide further details via email. Thank you, Bri.
        Janet Porter, Education Consultant

        • Bri Lynaugh

          Hi Janet,

          Thank you for your interest in this story and these amazing kids. I’ll reply to you via email 🙂

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