Dan Dodrill is a builder who goes way beyond the borders of Southwest Florida. He’s a builder who has no border at all. As a founder and president of Builders Without Borders, Dodrill heads up teams of local builders and residents who journey to Africa to build schools for children who desperately need a safe, clean place to learn.
It all began more than a decade ago when Dodrill, president of Daniel Wayne Homes, met Jean Baptiste, the national director of Rwanda Youth for Christ.
“He had a contract to purchase 1,500 acres, but had no money. It was kind of a daunting thing. He needed about $150,000. He felt that to help the country he needed to establish education. To prevent future genocides, he needed to start with the children.”
Baptiste had been in Colorado attending a general assembly. When Dodrill heard this story he had Baptiste fly to Florida to see how he could help.
“I probably could have given him $500, but he was in a country that needed help, so we donated money personally and we shared him around, and in two weeks he left and had the whole $150,000,” Dodrill said.
Dodrill thought that was the end of the Rwanda relationship. But he was wrong.
“A year later he closed on the property and I got a call from Jean and he needed money to build on the property. Jean asked if I would come over and build. My first response was ‘absolutely not.’”
Dodrill spent about nine months trying to get out of helping any further. Then he decided a little long-distance help would suffice.
“In Wauchula we found steel products. We thought we would send a building kit to Rwanda. But that did not work because they needed someone to show them how to do it. He (Baptiste) said, ‘That won't work, we don’t have any skilled people.’ We could not just send over a kit with instructions.”
That was the turning point in Dodrill’s volunteering. He realized for a school to materialize, he had to make it happen. Dodrill helped raise $100,000 for materials for the first building. Then he rounded up volunteers and in 2003 headed over to Kigali, Rwanda to help build a 7,000-square-foot multipurpose building. Locals poured the slabs before he arrived. Volunteers came over in two one-week shifts. The project was complete in about two weeks.