Local dentist lives on $1,000 a month to fund Afghanistan dental project

Posted at 5:00 PM, Feb 02, 2024
Living on $1,000 a month in Santa Barbara may seem impossible, but for one local dentist, it’s just a way of life.

Dr. Rolfe isn’t a typical dentist — he’s 84, makes crowns by hand, has funky art and musical instruments in his office, and lives on just $1,000 a month.

“I’m not sacrificing, I’m just living the way I feel is important to live. I’m not needing to have a fancy house, I just need a place to sleep and something to eat, so I’ve been able to lower my needs to less than $1,000 a month,” he said.

Dr. Rolfe’s lifestyle is one of resourcefulness, finding most things he needs in the urban environment by repurposing unused and discarded items instead of buying new ones.

“And I grow almost all of my own produce in my own garden,” he adds.

His approach to a conscious lifestyle allows Dr. Rolfe to fund humanitarian efforts worldwide, which all started after a visit to Afghanistan left a profound impression on the dentist.

“I saw people dying from their teeth. I came back and constructed this clinic in a shipping container, sent it there, hired a dentist and a nurse to work in it, then started a school for more dentists, and I’ve been building clinics there now for 20 years,” he explained.

Dr. Rolfe founded the Afghanistan Dental Relief Project in 2003, which has treated more than 200,000 patients. It provides free dental care to all Afghan people which, according to Dr. Rolfe, is most difficult for Islamic women due to modesty rules strictly enforced by the Taliban.

“I feel like we have to really be the change we wish to see in the world… The more aware you become, the more you seek solutions for the limits that come into your consciousness,” he said.

To learn more about the Afghanistan Dental Relief Project, visit ADRPINC.org.

Local dentist lives on $1,000 a month to fund Afghanistan dental project