Waste for One is Life for Another



Perception is as strange as it is variable. This ability is formed or at times malformed by various aspects of ones life namely our experiences, teachings, beliefs, surroundings. This is what helps us identify, what is of value and what has no worth. This  is unarguably inconsistent across individuals. It reflects our inner selves and our sense of worth. It defines the gap between value and valueless. Sadly, persistent bombardment of information in various forms has widened the perception gap between individuals and groups.

Despite of the thoughtless consumerism and the consequential after effects, something good has come of it. This is about a small city, Cateura, Paraguay, and its inhabitants. Surrounded literally by a sea of garbage this city is built atop a landfill. Though that may be the caveat, the more important part is what the community made of it. A garbage picker teamed up with a musician and started creating musical instruments from whatever useful garbage. Soon there were music classes, children found something of meaning in such a place, which further gave rise to the Recycled Orchestra.

For people earning a living by selling recycled trash, this was more than hope, it was a life changing event, especially for the young generation. In a place where a violin is worth more than a house, getting to play it was once only a dream. But because people found value even in things belonging to the swarming wastes, that dream became reality. What one life consumes and discards the leftover as valueless, became the source of a meaningful life for the other.

It only gives us a much better perspective, on how we dispose off things without knowing their real value and what truly can be made out of them, only because things are readily available for a price and can be easily replaced. This oasis of waste resulting from the continuous consumption of hundreds others showed us how something of zero value to one can become someone else’s life’s expression. Though in a way it portrays a decayed reflection of ourselves, it also provides hope and inspiration to improve ourselves. It shows us the importance of smallest of things and reminds us of our broken sense of worth.

At times it is hard to find meaning in one’s life or what our purpose is. But maybe that’s cause we aren’t looking closely or searching in the wrong places altogether. With such exalting examples, we at least can be more sensible in our decisions and our actions. If one can use disposed oil can and wood to make an orchestra-ready cello, we can definitely be better.


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