Helping from 8,000 miles away

The water filtration system design for the one being placed in Kenya

Duro Johnson

The water filtration system design for the one being placed in Kenya

Kira McAuliffe, Student Life Editor

Contaminated water in Kenya is causing many to fall ill. With the lack of resources and dry land, they were beginning to lose hope, until someone in our own community decided he wanted to make an impact. Senior Duro Johnson at Davenport West is taking on this challenge 8,000 miles away.

Currently, about 25% of the people in Kenya are dying or becoming ill from the diseased water, but with this project, Johnson is hoping to lower that number even by a little. 

As a part of the football team and the InvenTeam, Johnson is an active member in a variety of extracurriculars at his high school. Not only has he made an impact on his teammates in his local community, but he is also making a significant impact overseas. 

With some of his family being from Kenya and hearing about all the horrific statistics of thousands dying from water contamination, Johnson knew he had to help. 

He was then introduced to the water crisis project that was started in 2017. After hearing about a three-year ongoing water crisis project from his industrial technology teachers Greg Smith and Jason Frazenburg, he felt motivated to make a change.

“Each of those projects have their own stories and provide a great experience for students to innovate solutions via the design process. Over the years I wanted to take on projects that would potentially be more impactful for society.” Frazneburg states as he shares the reasoning behind this project and others done in the past. 

Johnson was assigned the designing process of this project. As part of his role, he designed a building which houses the filtration system, but would also be used as a common area where school staff can go including some teachers and the principal. 

The design of the filtration system was finished in late 2021 and the implementation planning was underway. Once they got the fundraising, correct measurements for actual design being implemented, and approval of design from Kenya, they were ready to go. 

Without the support that Johnson received, it may not have turned out the way it did. “The biggest motivator to start the project came from my teacher, he described the project to me and other students and wanted to know if we would like to do the project. His description made me realize that I would be making an impact in the lives of people in Kenya that struggle with getting clean water,”Johnson stated. 

Partnering with the school, Fishers of Men Ministries has also been a major part of this project. This organization is a non-profit Christian missionary group led by Pastor Joshua K. Ngao. They set out in third-world countries to provide schools for education, churches for spiritual needs, homes to those in need and water wells for cleaner water. 

In January, Johnson and three of his peers who also worked on this project will set out with Ngao and Smith to implement the design in the eastern village of Muamba. The design being implemented in Kenya will be roughly five times larger than the one built in school. 

When coming up with this plan, Johnson was only given the parameters and had free reign in terms of the design. Getting periodic feedback from Smith, Johnson worked until he had the perfect design. The group will use natural resources like rock, sand and gravel and will have access to pipes and containers for the actual water system itself. 

After six years of working on this project, it was finally finished. After being approved by MIT for the grants and Kenya for the actual process, it was finally ready to be implemented. Johnson is excited for the implementation process to get to see all the hard work in action.

In honor of the students’ hard work, Ngao is hoping to get this project government licensed and a plaque that celebrates where the project originated all the way back in Iowa at Davenport West High School. 

The project has been a huge part of Johnsons’ high school career, from learning about the project his freshman year to planning the trip to Kenya in his senior year to make it a reality.

With this background in developing innovative solutions, Johnson plans on pursuing this interest in college by studying engineering and doing personal projects on the side

“I hope to continue doing projects like this in the future since it was so fun and exciting to be able to impact a community so far away from me. I already knew I wanted to be an engineer but this project showed me a glimpse of what I could be doing in the future and I feel more certain about the path I am taking,” Johnson continued. 

Through this project, Johnson has been able to show his incredible knowledge and willingness to help others. While transforming the lives of people on the other side of the world as a high-schooler, Johnson has set himself up for a bright future ahead.