DEVELOPMENT | The Forgotten Inventors


In Chicome, Mozambique. Orlando's football made from plastic bags tied together with tree bark. Photo by Jessica Hilltout
We sometimes forget the wonder that comes from the developing world. The innovation that comes from having so little in one's possession, has inspired the greatest minds to think outside of the box and produce some of the most necessary things we find today. As great or small, there have been many such documented innovations, that may seem small at first, but manifest into greater aspects of society that some may find endearing. I find them ingenious. 

Inspired by last month's National Geographic editorial entitled "Joy is Round," Jessica Hilltout captures the beauty of how the sport of football has inspired young people to become inventors by making their own "magic orbs" from old clothes, plastic bags, yarn, even inflated condoms (well at least we now know they are multifunctional). It depicts a message to the world of how Africa embraces football, as well as how accessible this sport is through salvaged rubbish made into upcycled cherished possessions. 
However, this piece is not merely about my admiration for these clever innovators, but relates to my WASTE obsession, and how Waste has given hope and inspiration to some of the most vulnerable people--children. Hence, the rest of this blog post will highlight some of the crafty ways youths are keeping their wonderment alive through the things/toys they build.

In the video, Denis from Uganda demonstrates how boys like him reuse 'waste' to make toys, much like his plastic bottle car. This is typical. Children like him are made to re-imagine what recycled materials can be repurposed into. These locally available resources make me think back to the boys on my street who would chance upon an old tyre, making it into a new game of who can roll it with a stick the longest (my favourite were the kites made from old newspapers and sticks). I always remember wondering what on earth did they find enjoyable about that? But yet, they were always smiling. Enjoying their find, and rolling on in merriment, much like the tyre they carried.
13-year old Isaac from Gondola, Mozambique demonstrating how he makes his football using yarn, worn fabric and an inflated condom. This took him 30 minutes to make.
 It is safe to say that these forgotten inventors present us with something tangible to take away. There is so much we can do with so little; so much reward we can receive with just the tiniest bit of imagination, and just another look at what we dispose of.

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