By Janis Mara | Marinij.com
Charlotte Fager took a bite of a quesadilla from the Twister food truck at Novato’s Vintage Oaks shopping center Thursday, enjoying an early dinner — and contributing to the fight against Ebola.
In a special charity event, each of the trucks that serve food at the center every Thursday added a $1 charge to one popular item. The $1 was donated to Wellbody Alliance, which supports the work of Dr. Dan Kelly of UCSF treating Ebola victims in rural Africa.
“I worked in Sierra Leone, where Dr. Kelly is, last year for a nonprofit, and now I’m working at (food truck) Bacon Bacon,” said Colin Maloney, organizer of Thursday’s fundraiser. “I wanted to help fight Ebola, and since there’s a network of food trucks with Off the Grid, I thought this would be a good approach.”
Nine trucks sell food from 5 to 9 p.m. in Vintage Oaks behind the Old Navy store, a weekly event coordinated by Off the Grid, a San Francisco-based mobile food event company.
“It’s awful what’s happening with Ebola in Africa,” said Fager, a San Francisco resident who was visiting Novato. “Everyone wants to help, but it’s hard to figure out how to find a trustworthy agency.” The fact that Off the Grid partnered with Wellbody Alliance for the event was reassuring, she said.
Fred Fielding of Novato didn’t realize a fundraiser was going on. When he was informed about the extra dollar going to fight Ebola, he said, “I’ll go for that. It’s worth it,” and purchased the $1-added items at the Caribbean Spices truck.
There have been 14,098 reported cases of Ebola as of Nov. 12, with 5,160 reported deaths, according to the World Health Organization website. Case incidence is still increasing in Sierra Leone, according to the website. It is one of five west African countries at the center of the outbreak of the deadly disease.
In response, Kelly, a UCSF infectious disease specialist, traveled to Sierra Leone and reopened Wellbody Clinic, which had closed after several years of operation. He took a leave of absence from his job at UCSF and has worked continuously for the last two or three months on Ebola.
Kelly has been training workers in how to identify and treat Ebola patients and protect themselves while doing so.
“We have trained 1,000 health care workers,” said Kelly, who was at Thursday’s event after spending more than a month in Sierra Leone. “We built a coalition with Partners in Health,” a Massachusetts-based non-profit health care organization.
“On Oct. 8, I went back to Sierra Leone with (Partners in Health founder) Paul Farmer to meet with the president and the first lady. We committed to take on the greatest needs of the country,” Kelly said.
“This crisis has collapsed the health care network there,” Kelly said.
Nonetheless, “I am hopeful,” Kelly said. “I am seeing a lot of partners coming in, more protective gear being put in place. The one need now is staff.”
The money taken in Thursday night will help pay for workers. “We make sure they are trained and have a place to sleep. It costs $2,000 just to fly one staff member in from the U.S.,” Kelly said.
While Thursday’s event is over, it is still possible to donate to Maloney’s Wellbody Clinic fundraiser by visiting the Wellbody Clinic website, https://wellbodyalliance.giv.sh/445a.