People are valuable, and often do wonderful things.
That's not the impression I get reading about the wonder of a classical orchestra springing up out of a landfill like a daisy in a graveyard. Everyone's fascinated with the trash. I don't know how to break it to you, but in general, a violin is made from the structural fibers found in the boles, branches, and roots of trees. I can open the windows of my house, reach out, and touch trees. I can go out to my pile of firewood and get fifteen-violins-worth of tiger maple in one five gallon pail and bring it inside and get to work. Trees are even less valuable than trash. And I saw plenty of animals in the video, and if you have animals, you have glue.
That's real recycling, red in tooth and claw, you see going on at the Cateura landfill. Not the smug dump of your Dasani bottles in a bin on the curb. Trash has to go somewhere, and someone has to deal with it. If what you dump is valuable, people or machines pick through it and make money. The people in Cateura are there because they know that the trash is full of what for them is treasure. It's funny that most of the instruments are made from metal, which is the most high-value stuff in the dump. They should sell that, and get a load of pallet lumber and make better violins. But who knows how transparent the economy is in Paraguay? I offer no advice to the Cateurans, except perhaps: Keep going.
Paraguay's had a very lively history. "Lively" isn't often good in politics. From the fifties to the present it's been at least fairly stable, and as recently as 2010 they've enjoyed a 14.5% GDP growth rate, third in the world behind Qatar and Singapore. How'd your 401k do in 2010? Just asking.
So things are getting better in Paraguay, and there are lots of children, and the children need things. People, being clever, make those things for their children out of what's at hand. It's obvious that someone loves the children in the video, because even though they live in a dump, they're well-turned out, clean, and learning Mozart instead of Eminem. I can't say the same for the children I saw at the Walmart near where I live.
Paraguayans have children and make violins for them out of next to nothing, both signs of hope for the future, and are celebrated by childless first-worlders obsessed with their trash who talk endlessly about the end of the world. A Paraguayan seems to know that people are valuable. Do you?
(Thanks to reader and commenter and friend and artista especial Casey Klahn for sending that along)