Creative Recycling in Uganda and Brazil

Children Play at the Recycled Amusement Park in Uganda (Image via TED)
And Given the Floppy Disks on the Tail of the Helicopter, This is Also Where the 1990s Goes to R.I.P.

Go Ahead - Play with your Trash
For those of you who travel to developing countries, you know that there is often a lot of garbage lying around, especially in the large cities. I can only speak for Sierra Leone, but roadsides in Freetown are piled with rubbish.  In smaller villages when garbage heaps get too large to be ignored, they are burned.

 "The Hand thatSpeaks" Project in Uganda 
(Image via Eco-art's Facebook)
One creative “eco-artist” in Uganda by the name of Ruganzu Bruno Tusingwire realized the garbage problem in his country and decided to actually do something about it. Tusingwire, along with a group of students from Kyambogo University, decided to use Uganda’s garbage constructively and creatively. As the nation recovers from war, Tusingwire had an idea to turn unwanted garbage into a community-building project that would benefit children living in Kampala’s slums. His idea: to create a movable (and soon permanent) amusement park for children in Kampala out of garbage as a space for kids to both play and learn. Although the project currently only consists of a play helicopter, the plan is that it will expand to the size of a full, permanent amusement park.

The concept behind Tusingwire’s ‘eco-art’ is to raise awareness of harmful environmental practices that not only affect nature, but also communities. Tusingwire and his team then use this garbage and turn it into art so that communities will begin to look “…at their disposable waste differently”.

Where did he get the idea to turn garbage into an amusement park? As Tusingwire explains, “I shifted from doing artwork tojust hang on walls, having little influence on society, to doing art thatsolves community needs. It’s helped me realize my value to society.” Because of his innovative idea, Tusingwire won TED’s first City 2.0 Award at the TEDxSummit in Doha, Qatar where he recieved $10,000 to implement his vision.

One of Vik Muniz's Art Projects of a catadores
(Image via Waste Land)
Even before his finished project is completed, this amusement park will benefit the local communities it is located near. As Tusingwire observes, “Art is unifying. We can use what is around us to create treasure, employment opportunities, and make the environment better. There is a wonderful world of possibilities before us.” Although the project is being constructed for the kids of Kampala’s slums, it will benefit the environment and the community as a whole.

>> Hat Tip to Lauren of Double Takes Blog for informing me of this project.

Recycled Art in Brazil
Inspired by this creative use of trash? Well it doesn't stop in Uganda. Half way around the Earth in the world's largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, outside of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, another artist by the name of Vik Muniz was inspired by trash. Muniz began with the simple idea of photographing the catadores – the scavengers and inhabitants of Jardim Gramacho – but his idea expanded when he decided to incorporate the garbage that the catadores are surrounded by into his photographs. The result: true works of art and photography that symbolize the struggles of the catadores and their hopes for the future. Muniz’s purpose for creating these photographs was to sell them and to give the profits back to those who inhabit Jardim Gramacho. Muniz and his project is followed in a documentary called “Waste Land”.

As the world becomes more industrialized and consumer waste continues to build, visionaries such as Muniz and Tusingwire might well be the artists of tomorrow.


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