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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Paraguayan symphony

Gary Singer in 2011. (File)
Gary Singer in 2011. (File)

Gary Singer of Spokane offered opportunity and hope to Paraguayan children who live in a garbage dump when he decided to donate a stockpile of musical instruments to their orchestra. A 60 Minutes story profiled children playing Mozart on instruments fashioned from garbage.  Singer died in February 2013 before the instruments were sent. Recently, the legacy made its way to the poverty-stricken community of musicians.

When my husband and I traveled to Paraguay in 1994, we met our infant son, adopted him and brought him home. During those five weeks, we took taxis in Asuncion to stores, markets, the doctor, the American Embassy and the courthouse. We walked past mansions with little-boy soldiers, well-armed with scary weapons, guarding the properties. We walked by the river where people lived in cardboard “houses” with no sanitation or food source. We held our son tightly against us as we wondered what might have been.

The children in Paraguay’s poorest of the poor neighborhoods have been given real musical instruments. They learned to play on musical instruments fashioned from items picked from the trash; their remarkable ability to make harmony from garbage is an object lesson: no child is lost, no dream too big.

While problem solvers discuss solutions to poverty, crime and drug abuse, music offers an avenue to creativity, self-respect and communicating in a universal language.

The next challenge: invite those remarkable musicians to Spokane where we can continue the symphony of hope. 

(S-R archive photo: Gary Singer, 2011)

Spokesman-Review features writer Rebecca Nappi, along with writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., discuss here issues facing aging boomers, seniors and those experiencing serious illness, dying, death and other forms of loss.