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Shining World Compassion Award: Dr. James Rolfe’s Afghanistan Dental Relief Project    
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Everywhere in the world, we can observe and be touched by acts of kindness. People from all walks of life, faiths, and cultures extend themselves beyond the call of duty to help others unconditionally. Through their noble deeds, humanity as a whole is elevated.

To commend virtuous actions and encourage more people to be inspired by their examples, Supreme Master Ching Hai has lovingly created a series of awards, including the Shining World Leadership Award, Shining World Compassion Award, Shining World Hero and Heroine Awards, Shining World Honesty Award, Shining World Protection Award, Shining World Intelligence Award, and Shining World Inventor Award, to recognize some Of the most exemplary, generous, caring, and courageous people who walk amongst us.

Dr. James Rolfe, age 71, Of Santa Barbara, California, USA is a dentist who has devoted the past eight years to a remarkable project. It started when he was touched by an article in the newspaper about an orphanage in rural Afghanistan.

Eventually, I ended up putting up 500 pounds of dental equipment, packing it to be flown to Afghanistan. I went there to an orphanage in the highland mountains of Wardak Province. At 11,000 feet, I worked for three weeks on these orphaned kids, and I saw that they were really intelligent, but they had no future; they didn't even have shoes. And then I learned there are 3 million orphans in Afghanistan. And I thought, “This is the future of Afghanistan, what are these kids going to do?”

After I finished their procedure, I would have them help me and I saw they grasped the principles really quickly even though I couldn't speak Farsi, they couldn't speak English. We were able to communicate, and they were able to help me. There’s only 134 dentists to treat 32 million people. So that’s one dentist for 250,000 people. You can imagine it’s a little hard to get an appointment. And these people are basically, the dentists are basically concentrated in the cities, in the urban areas, and the provinces, where 90 % of the people live – have no access to dental care whatsoever.

There are a lot of people with missing teeth and just don’t have teeth, and this really contributes to malnutrition and a lack of longevity.

In a province with zero dental facilities, people suffered intense pain and severe infections that threatened their very lives. I began to see people from the outlying villages who had a lot dental problems, and they would come and I would look in their mouths and I could see that a lot of them were on the verge of death because of their teeth. Because they would have 7 or 8 abscess teeth, and just be on their last legs. And it really affected me a lot, because I could only see this one person for one time that I was going to be there, and there was a line out the door.

Dr. Rolfe was deeply affected by his visit and decided to return to help. Out of a shipping container, he ingeniously built a modern dental clinic, complete with three dental chairs, a sterilizing room, and laboratory with its own water supply.

It took me a year and half to make that, and about 6,000 hours and about US$60,000, and then I shipped it to Afghanistan, and it's working there now. We're treating about 20,000 people a year.

My name is Julia Zhogina. I’m a dental hygienist and I help Dr. Rolfe in the clinic. I think that Afghanistan is very interesting place to be in.

And you can help a lot of people by doing this; and people really appreciate your help here. I think Dr. Rolfe is doing the great thing, and the dentists in USA and in Europe should learn more about his project and come here to help him.

Dr. Rolfe’s free dental care service helps areas most in need, and is staffed by volunteers from around the world. But all this is just the beginning of an even greater vision: to bring lasting changes all over Afghanistan.

We've also taken orphans and widows, and handicapped people and single mothers, and trained them to be dental technicians. So now we have dental assistants, dental hygienists, dental laboratory technicians that are actually supplementing the dentists.

We’ve spent over a trillion dollars there on the war, and this amount of money, if it were applied to the infrastructure would elevate the well-being of Afghanistan.

You know, they’re always smiling and I love to go there, because people there are dealing with the real needs of life, the really important things. They have their families and they’re hardworking and they’re really serious about life, and they’re at the same time enjoying life and having a good time. And they really appreciate everything that they have. On a level of happiness, I think they’re much happier than Americans are.

So it’s a pleasure to go there and interact with those people.

We have right now enough equipment in Afghanistan to set up 10 clinics. We’ve started the school, we have the clinic going, we have our commercial dental laboratory, which is the only full-service commercial dental laboratory in Afghanistan.

We’ve already trained our own teachers, so we’ve graduated our first classes in dental assisting, dental hygiene and dental laboratory technology, and we’re using those teachers to teach other people. So we already have that covered, we just need to raise money to actually build the building. We want to build the first part of that building and then move our operation into the new building, and then to take the container clinic and move it to another city and start the process over in another city. So we’ve selected a city to the north called Mazar-i-Sharif…

With sufficient financial support, the project eventually will create self-sustaining centers of dental education and treatment throughout Afghanistan. For his dedicated endeavors, Supreme Master Ching Hai honored Dr. Rolfe with the Shining World Compassion Award along with a US$30,000 contribution to help further his noble work.

“Dear Dr. Rolfe, It is with great pleasure and gratitude that we present to you “The Shining World Compassion Award.” This award is presented in recognition of your extraordinary spirit of sacrifice and determination, and for your boundless unconditional willingness to render service and aid, providing hope, comfort and a loving and constructive path to peace and progress. In a land where few westerners would voluntarily venture, the arrival of an American dentist in the remote Afghan mountains in 2002 was surely seen as a God-send from Heaven.

And during setbacks and adversity that would test the resolve of a younger man, you have returned a number of times since, forsaking comfort and risking life and limb to provide free dental services to thousands from your clinic in the outskirts of Kabul. Today your center is staffed by 3 Afghan dentists and 13 others, including local women who have graduated as dental assistants from a training course you initiated.

Your mission of mercy and good will is motivated by an acute sense of justice, as much as by a passion for healing. If we could take a fraction of what we’re spending on the military and spend it on clinics and schools and infrastructure, then peace would reign throughout the region, you say. Dr. Rolfe, words fail to convey the depth of our respect and admiration for the courage you have shown in this epic undertaking of love. Your achievement is immeasurable and has conquered the hearts of the Afghan people. Love always prevail where might has failed.

May Heaven bless your endeavors and keep you safe in her loving embrace. For following your heart, for your inexhaustible energy and benevolence and for your great love for humanity, we hereby applaud and celebrate the compassionate deeds of fearless humanitarian, Dr. Jim Rolfe and the brave-hearted staff, volunteers and supporters of the “Kabul Dental Clinic & Training Center.” With great honor, love and blessings, Supreme Master Ching Hai”

Thank you so much.

In addition to the Shining World Compassion Award, gifts were presented to Dr. Rolfe, including Supreme Master Ching Hai’s #1 international bestselling book, “The Noble Wilds,” uplifting lecture DVDs and music CDs.

That’s wonderful.

Dr. Rolfe also accepted a US$30,000 donation from Supreme Master Ching Hai.

This is going to really make a difference. This is going to be our little seed that we are going to start our new building with. So we hope that other people want to participate with that and certainly, a 100% of donations go directly to the project.

I’d like to thank Supreme Master Ching Hai for this honor. This is such an honor that you would recognize the work that I have gone to… I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that you would support what I am trying to do. I vow to you that I would see that this money is used to take this work to the next level. And words cannot express the appreciation that I have for this honor. Thank you so much.

Afterward, Dr. Rolfe sent a letter to Supreme Master Ching Hai:

“Dear Supreme Master Ching Hai, Your generous support of our humanitarian project in Afghanistan has allowed us to begin our permanent teaching facility, which eventually will employ twelve dentists and treat over ten thousand patients a year…

Your contribution will change many people’s lives, providing life-saving treatment to people who are on the verge of death from their teeth, ninety percent of whom have never had a dentist to go to. Disadvantaged students will become the future leaders in health care, authority figures empowered to serve the needs of their fellow citizens, able to empower their own lives and the lives of others. Your gift will become a monument to the power of our Spiritual Essence, manifested in physical form, showing people what can be accomplished by willful pursuit of God-Realization…

To bring this work to this point in time, I have had many interesting experiences. Living on half of the poverty level income, I have learned to survive solely by foraging in the urban environment, negating my impact on the Earth by utilizing resources that naturally exist as urban waste. I know now how to focus the spiritual energy I receive in order to create what the Spirit wants me to do. In this process, I have come to respect all things, seeing that everything is alive: the rocks, the air.

Above all, we need to see that all life is sacred, and that the taking of life to sustain us is a sacred act, not to be taken for granted. As we are a part of society, we should serve as examples through our thoughts and actions. In that way, we will bring balance and harmony to the world around us. As we move into the future, may we see a world truly realized, having liberty and justice for all. Dr. James Rolfe”

May Heaven bless you, Dr. Rolfe, for your loving dedication to the well-being and the future of the peace-loving Afghan people. May your extraordinary project continue to expand to benefit every corner of this deserving nation.

For more information about the Afghanistan Dental Relief Project, please visit www.ADRPinc.org

Kind viewers, thank you for your company on this program. Coming up next is Words of Wisdom, after Noteworthy News. Blessed be your loving heart.
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