In the landfill town of Cateura, Paraguay, there is garbage everywhere and in fact that is the main source of income for its residents: recycling trash. Until recently, this poverty stricken community was unknown to the world. However, in 2006 something amazing happened. A children’s orchestra, with instruments made exclusively out of trash, was formed.
In time, the choir has become an example of triumph over adversity, performing all over the world, resulting in scholarships, reducing addictions, and inspiring other impoverished areas to follow suit.
What in the world, you may ask, does this have to do with sexual trauma? The answer is simple: countless survivors of sexual abuse and assault will tell you (if asked) that the crimes committed against them left them feeling like garbage. Survivors often and sometimes for long periods of time feel profound shame, suffering from a sense of being dirty and used up. It is no wonder then that The Council for Prostitution Alternatives, Portland, Oregon stated in its annual report that: 85% of prostitutes reported history of sexual abuse in childhood; 70% reported incest. Furthermore, compared to non-victims of crimes, rape victims are 13.4 times more likely to have major alcohol problems and twenty-six times more likely to have drug abuse problems.
Arguably these behaviors are a logical response to feeling like garbage.
So the challenge then is how to help a human being who was robbed of worth believe in the inherent possibilities of transformation. If actual trash can be recycled to make beautiful music, surely the soul can find its true home in the knowledge of its essential purity. Many survivors are heroically engaged in this pursuit. We must not give up. YOU CAN HELP.