Although the dirt is red, this ain’t Oklahoma. It’s Ndendé, a town and capital of the Dola Department in southern Gabon. Never heard of the country of Gabon? Don’t feel bad; its entire population is currently about 2 million. Compare that to the city of Houston, Texas, which is 2.3 million. And back in 1964, when this shot was taken, the country had less than half a million citizens.
Above, we see John F. Murphy coaching the boy who is about to receive the ball (let’s hope he doesn’t fumble). Murphy was in the Peace Corps and helped to clear playing fields and build schools, so that the kids wouldn’t be stuck under crumbling shanties made of wattle and thatch.
Below, he and others nail siding on to a new school that will protect children from the elements.
Murphy was also a captain in the Marine Corps, and is now a whistleblower lawyer in Hartford, Connecticut. He was known by the townspeople he helped as one of “les blancs qui travaillent” (the white people who work). A bulldozer operator for the Public Works Dept stated, “It is not myself who will see the progress. It is too late for me. But my children will go to school, and they will learn what I have never learned.”