For the past eight years, Santa Barbara, California dentist Dr. James G. Rolfe has improved the lives of the Afghan people through his organization, the Afghanistan Dental Relief Project. Dental care conditions in Afghanistan are severely compromised with only 134 dentists to serve a population of 27 million. Sterilization practices are lax and untreated dental conditions resulting in death are not unheard of.
Dr. Rolfe established his organization to provide dental treatment facilities in underserved areas of Afghanistan, to staff these facilities with volunteers and to train the Afghan people in dentistry.
Dr. Rolfe’s journey began when, moved by the plight of orphaned children in Afghanistan with no access to dental care, he volunteered at a remote mountain orphanage. There he spent 17 hours a day, seven days a week providing much-needed dental treatment for three straight weeks.
Dr. Rolfe’s goal of establishing a dental facility in Afghanistan started with his idea of transporting shipping containers filled with supplies that could also double as its structure. He shipped several structures containing 120,000 pounds of dental equipment to Kabul. Dentists, manufacturers and distributors donated used equipment and supplies.
Dr. Rolfe worked with Afghan government officials and private citizens to identify land for a mobile facility and opened The Kabul Clinic and Training Center in November 2008. The clinic includes chairs, x-ray machines and the facilities have their own water sanitizing, plumbing, storage and electrical systems.
In January 2009, Dr. Rolfe opened a volunteer center next to the clinic that includes seven bedrooms with complete utilities to house volunteers year-round. Once a permanent facility is built, the next phase of the project will be to transport the mobile lab to another Province and continue the training process anew.