To find proof in Togo that necessity really is invention's Mom, one need look no further than the toys of the children. Denied the wonderful advantages of Toys R Us and Happy Meals, the kids in Togo improvise... and make their own toys. Some are quite simple: a couple of stiff leaves pinned to a stick make a wind propellor. Others show elaborate workmanship: cars and trucks made out of twisted pieces of wire, wood, and old tires. However fancy or simple, they are a source of both fun and pride for the Togolese children, in a way that American kids, with their bulging toy chests, can never know.

I'm not one inclined to romanticize the life of Togolese children, who struggle with disease and malnourishment. But in this one respect, I can't help but think that the advantages that American children enjoy may not be all they are cracked up to be!

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