Toy Story

oil can truck uganda

It started with four or five toys I’d picked up in Africa. They would sit on a table, towards the front of the room, whenever I gave a school presentation. But they weren't your run of the mill made in China toys. These were handmade toys. Made by children. From discarded materials. Bottle caps. Telephone wire. Scraps of cloth. “Kids everywhere love to play,” I would tell my rapt audience of children. “That's what you have in common with every single child in the world. But millions of kids don’t have money to buy toys. But that doesn’t stop them - they make their own. “Awed silence. I had photographed the toys and projected them big, so everyone could study the surprising detail: the clothes hanger wire twisted to form the frame for a truck. The shoe polish tin transformed into a drum. The bottle cap that morphed into a hat- or set of wheels. “What do you see?” I would ask as the image of a plastic car oil container filled the screen. “I see a blue oil container,” I would continue. “How many of you see the same thing?” Hundreds of hands shoot up. I continue....“but one boy...one really SMART boy...he saw......” (Dramatic pause. Total silence from 500 awed schoolkids – including a hundred or so squirmy first graders. Even the teachers looked up from papers they were grading.) “This one smart kid saw....a truck!” And the image pops up, showing how this discarded blue plastic oil container – turned on its side with 4 bottle caps attached to make wheels – was instantly transformed into a pretty nifty truck. Can you guess why there's a hole cut in the top?  And then the piece de resistance........... (next post!)

oil can uganda

I saw an empty oil can. But one smart boy saw a truck.