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At the invitation of the U.S. Ambassador, everyone was invited to the American Embassy for dinner one night.

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Leslie Bassett, U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay

Quite the home with a backyard that fits 300 people comfortably!

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There was traditional Paraguayan dancers that entertained us,

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and a beautiful buffet was set up with coffee and dessert table fit for a king! IMG_8046Also a tent for a band and dance floor. Gorgeous gardens and twinkling lights. What a treat!

 

 

 

 

 

Another surprise for the coaches was the The Landfill Harmonica Orchestra that came to play on another evening. A small group of kids with violins, violas, cellos, bass, guitars, flutes, saxophones and drums all made out of trash from the city dump. What a moving experience! These children live in Catuera, a city that has formed on and around the dump. Their daily task is to go through the cities garbage and pick out bottles, glass, tin and anything else they can find to recycle and reclaim anything of value to try to make enough money to feed their families.

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Favio Chavez, a social worker and music teacher began a school of music 10 years ago at the side of this dump. IMG_8121The instruments were hard to come by and too expensive to buy new so together with a talented carpenter they started turning trash into instruments. They use common things like tin cans, baking sheets, forks, pallet wood, etc. to fashion instruments that sound remarkably good! Just looking at these kids and their instruments and hearing them play was an experience I will not soon forget.

John auctioned off a small violin for $15,000.00 and received $50,000.00 in donations to help them build an actual building for the music school. This orchestra has even travelled to the United States playing and raising money for the people of Catuera. Favio is an amazing man, he made jokes that helped keep us laughing instead of crying, and told us the story of how it all began in a matter of fact way. He is making music out of garbage, what others throw away, and turns it into hope and a future for the children of Catuera.

There was Eric, the young medical student who has been making prosthesis from a 3D printer. He has formed a company and has 10 people working for him already; they are able to provide prosthetic hands and arms for only $300! His motivation is to give people who have lived with a missing limb renewed confidence and elevated self-esteem. Check him out at http://www.Po.com.py

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The biggest surprise of all was the wonderful people. The way the coaches connected and bonded with their interpreters was unexpected. Lifelong relationships were formed and bit of everyone’s heart was left in Paraguay over a period of only a few days.

 

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