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    [Turning Trash into Dreams]


    [Throughout my life I have always been struck by how music, as a part of culture, is a white flag in many circumstances of life, especially in times of conflict. Even the Germans found time to attend concerts during war. The other day I went to the education center in the Asuncion neighborhood of Cateura called Vy’a Renda, meaning Place of Joy in the Guaraní language, where I found youths building their future in a place of extreme poverty. It’s a school with curtains drawn over broken windows, but which houses diamonds in the rough in the form of children studying music and playing in an orchestra. Their instruments are built of material recycled from trash, giving the orchestra its name, the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura.

    The orchestra’s director, Favio Chavez, was an amateur musician apart from being an environmental engineer at the Cateura municipal garbage dump. In 2006 he decided to help the children of the dozens of garbage pickers by forming a music school with the five instruments he managed to acquire. He soon had more students than instruments, until one of the pickers named Nicolas Gomez presented him with an instrument he had made from material recycled from the dump.

    Mr. Gomez, 48, considers himself a self-taught musician. He has gray hair and worn clothes, and a great affection for animals and music. His favorite instrument is the cello. This man of great simplicity reveals that he feels proud each time he hears children and youths play the guitars, violins and cellos that he builds, and that his favorite sound is one that comes from those recycled instruments.

    Vy’a Renda is in a place of extreme poverty but rich in education because the students receive a high level of musical and academic instruction. What caught my attention the most was Mr. Gomez himself, who I first met when he arrived unannounced as the orchestra was rehearsing.

    After a brief trash tour, Mr. Gomez, a man of few words but a strong expression of humility and decency, took me to his home, one of extreme poverty indeed. He showed me his workshop where he makes the instruments. He lives there with his wife, Natividad Romero, their eight dogs, three cows, and 38 pigs, in an area about 15 yards across.

    Since that day I went to photograph Paraguay’s new president-elect, who much of the country hopes will bring about a good change to the country. In one of his speeches I heard him say, [My government will fight to reduce poverty]. I can only hope that it wasn’t just a political slogan, because even though there are many people rich on the outside but poor inside, there are even more who are the opposite]. – Jorge Adorno via Reuters


    Trash recycler and craftsman Nicolas Gomez makes a violin from a paint tin and dinner fork for the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 22, 2013. The orchestra is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


    Trash recycler and craftsman Nicolas Gomez makes a violin from a paint tin and dinner fork for the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 22, 2013. The orchestra is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)




    Director of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, Favio Chavez, tunes one of the orchestra's instruments made of recycled a recycled paint can at the Vy'a Renda education center in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 8, 2013. The orchestra is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Nicolas Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


    Director of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, Favio Chavez, tunes one of the orchestra's instruments made of recycled a recycled paint can at the Vy'a Renda education center in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 8, 2013. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)




    Trash recycler and craftsman Nicolas Gomez selects an oil drum to make a cello for the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 22, 2013. The orchestra is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


    Trash recycler and craftsman Nicolas Gomez selects an oil drum to make a cello for the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 22, 2013. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)




    Music student Hugo Irrazabal plays his cello made from recycled materials during a rehearsal of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, at the Vy'a Renda education center in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 8, 2013. The orchestra is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Nicolas Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


    Music student Hugo Irrazabal plays his cello made from recycled materials during a rehearsal of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, at the Vy'a Renda education center in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 8, 2013. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)




    Director of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, Favio Chavez (C, gray shirt), leads his music students during a rehearsal at the Vy'a Renda education center in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 8, 2013. The orchestra is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Nicolas Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


    Director of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, Favio Chavez (C, gray shirt), leads his music students during a rehearsal at the Vy'a Renda education center in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 8, 2013. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)




    Director of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, Favio Chavez (L, gray shirt), leads his music students during a rehearsal at the Vy'a Renda education center in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 8, 2013. The orchestra is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Nicolas Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


    Director of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, Favio Chavez (L, gray shirt), leads his music students during a rehearsal at the Vy'a Renda education center in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 8, 2013. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)




    Trash recycler and craftsman Nicolas Gomez (R) greets students of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, for which Gomez makes all their instruments, in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 9, 2013. The orchestra is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


    Trash recycler and craftsman Nicolas Gomez (R) greets students of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, for which Gomez makes all their instruments, in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 9, 2013. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)




    Renowned Paraguayan classical guitarist, Bertha Rojas, plays an instrument made from recycled food tins by craftsman Nicolas Gomez, during a visit to the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 9, 2013. The orchestra is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


    Renowned Paraguayan classical guitarist, Bertha Rojas, plays an instrument made from recycled food tins by craftsman Nicolas Gomez, during a visit to the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 9, 2013. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)




    Trash recycler and craftsman Nicolas Gomez (L) watches as his wife Natividad Romero sews clothes from cloth recovered from the local landfill, at their home in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 9, 2013. The Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


    Trash recycler and craftsman Nicolas Gomez (L) watches as his wife Natividad Romero sews clothes from cloth recovered from the local landfill, at their home in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 9, 2013. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)




    Music student Valencia plays a violin made from recycled objects during a concert of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, in Asuncion, June 22, 2013. The orchestra is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Nicolas Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


    Music student Valencia plays a violin made from recycled objects during a concert of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, in Asuncion, June 22, 2013. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)




    A student of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura holds an instrument made from recycled material by craftsman Nicolas Gomez, in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 9, 2013. The orchestra is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


    A student of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura holds an instrument made from recycled material by craftsman Nicolas Gomez, in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 9, 2013. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)




    Members of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura pose for the audience during a concert in Asuncion, June 22, 2013. The orchestra is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Nicolas Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


    Members of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura pose for the audience during a concert in Asuncion, June 22, 2013. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


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[Turning Trash into Dreams]


[Throughout my life I have always been struck by how music, as a part of culture, is a white flag in many circumstances of life, especially in times of conflict. Even the Germans found time to attend concerts during war. The other day I went to the education center in the Asuncion neighborhood of Cateura called Vy’a Renda, meaning Place of Joy in the Guaraní language, where I found youths building their future in a place of extreme poverty. It’s a school with curtains drawn over broken windows, but which houses diamonds in the rough in the form of children studying music and playing in an orchestra. Their instruments are built of material recycled from trash, giving the orchestra its name, the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura.

The orchestra’s director, Favio Chavez, was an amateur musician apart from being an environmental engineer at the Cateura municipal garbage dump. In 2006 he decided to help the children of the dozens of garbage pickers by forming a music school with the five instruments he managed to acquire. He soon had more students than instruments, until one of the pickers named Nicolas Gomez presented him with an instrument he had made from material recycled from the dump.

Mr. Gomez, 48, considers himself a self-taught musician. He has gray hair and worn clothes, and a great affection for animals and music. His favorite instrument is the cello. This man of great simplicity reveals that he feels proud each time he hears children and youths play the guitars, violins and cellos that he builds, and that his favorite sound is one that comes from those recycled instruments.

Vy’a Renda is in a place of extreme poverty but rich in education because the students receive a high level of musical and academic instruction. What caught my attention the most was Mr. Gomez himself, who I first met when he arrived unannounced as the orchestra was rehearsing.

After a brief trash tour, Mr. Gomez, a man of few words but a strong expression of humility and decency, took me to his home, one of extreme poverty indeed. He showed me his workshop where he makes the instruments. He lives there with his wife, Natividad Romero, their eight dogs, three cows, and 38 pigs, in an area about 15 yards across.

Since that day I went to photograph Paraguay’s new president-elect, who much of the country hopes will bring about a good change to the country. In one of his speeches I heard him say, [My government will fight to reduce poverty]. I can only hope that it wasn’t just a political slogan, because even though there are many people rich on the outside but poor inside, there are even more who are the opposite]. – Jorge Adorno via Reuters


Trash recycler and craftsman Nicolas Gomez makes a violin from a paint tin and dinner fork for the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 22, 2013. The orchestra is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


Trash recycler and craftsman Nicolas Gomez makes a violin from a paint tin and dinner fork for the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 22, 2013. The orchestra is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)




Director of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, Favio Chavez, tunes one of the orchestra's instruments made of recycled a recycled paint can at the Vy'a Renda education center in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 8, 2013. The orchestra is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Nicolas Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


Director of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, Favio Chavez, tunes one of the orchestra's instruments made of recycled a recycled paint can at the Vy'a Renda education center in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 8, 2013. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)




Trash recycler and craftsman Nicolas Gomez selects an oil drum to make a cello for the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 22, 2013. The orchestra is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


Trash recycler and craftsman Nicolas Gomez selects an oil drum to make a cello for the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 22, 2013. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)




Music student Hugo Irrazabal plays his cello made from recycled materials during a rehearsal of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, at the Vy'a Renda education center in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 8, 2013. The orchestra is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Nicolas Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


Music student Hugo Irrazabal plays his cello made from recycled materials during a rehearsal of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, at the Vy'a Renda education center in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 8, 2013. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)




Director of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, Favio Chavez (C, gray shirt), leads his music students during a rehearsal at the Vy'a Renda education center in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 8, 2013. The orchestra is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Nicolas Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


Director of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, Favio Chavez (C, gray shirt), leads his music students during a rehearsal at the Vy'a Renda education center in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 8, 2013. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)




Director of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, Favio Chavez (L, gray shirt), leads his music students during a rehearsal at the Vy'a Renda education center in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 8, 2013. The orchestra is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Nicolas Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


Director of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, Favio Chavez (L, gray shirt), leads his music students during a rehearsal at the Vy'a Renda education center in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 8, 2013. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)




Trash recycler and craftsman Nicolas Gomez (R) greets students of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, for which Gomez makes all their instruments, in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 9, 2013. The orchestra is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


Trash recycler and craftsman Nicolas Gomez (R) greets students of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, for which Gomez makes all their instruments, in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 9, 2013. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)




Renowned Paraguayan classical guitarist, Bertha Rojas, plays an instrument made from recycled food tins by craftsman Nicolas Gomez, during a visit to the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 9, 2013. The orchestra is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


Renowned Paraguayan classical guitarist, Bertha Rojas, plays an instrument made from recycled food tins by craftsman Nicolas Gomez, during a visit to the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 9, 2013. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)




Trash recycler and craftsman Nicolas Gomez (L) watches as his wife Natividad Romero sews clothes from cloth recovered from the local landfill, at their home in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 9, 2013. The Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


Trash recycler and craftsman Nicolas Gomez (L) watches as his wife Natividad Romero sews clothes from cloth recovered from the local landfill, at their home in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 9, 2013. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)




Music student Valencia plays a violin made from recycled objects during a concert of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, in Asuncion, June 22, 2013. The orchestra is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Nicolas Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


Music student Valencia plays a violin made from recycled objects during a concert of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, in Asuncion, June 22, 2013. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)




A student of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura holds an instrument made from recycled material by craftsman Nicolas Gomez, in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 9, 2013. The orchestra is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


A student of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura holds an instrument made from recycled material by craftsman Nicolas Gomez, in Cateura, near Asuncion, May 9, 2013. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)




Members of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura pose for the audience during a concert in Asuncion, June 22, 2013. The orchestra is the brainchild of its conductor Favio Chavez, who wanted to help the children of garbage pickers at the local landfill, and the instruments are made from salvaged materials by craftsman Nicolas Gomez. The orchestra now involves 30 schoolchildren who have toured countries in Latin America, North America and Europe to play music ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Paraguayan folk songs. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


Members of the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura pose for the audience during a concert in Asuncion, June 22, 2013. (Photo by Jorge Adorno/Reuters)


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