All posts by Sally Archambault

Reality for Some Syrian Refugees

In January, my sister, Tama Adelman, a nurse, left for Lesbos, Greece, to work with four colleagues on a medical team for the Syrian Refugees. She joined Valerie Hellerman, director of Hands On Global.

The trip began with a Toothbrush & Underwear campaign in Napa, the key items that were requested by the organization, Refugee4refugees.

Napans donated 1,197 toothbrushes and 1,105 underwear sets. Lufthansa Airlines offered to take these donations, thus saving funds that could be donated directly to the refugees. Below is their story told by Tamra and Valerie in emails from Lesbos.

Initial Impressions

We learned a lot our first day here, so much to unravel ahead to understand the complexity of it all. We visited the local police station to register, and met up with Omar Alshakal in the morning to drive to Skila, cozy little old town in the north of the island.

Omar is a 23-year-old who swam from Turkey to Greece, made it to Germany and returned here to form the NGO Refugee4refugees. He works tirelessly. Our discussions with him clarified the situation and its dangers.

The Moira camp has more than 7,000 people and was built for 2,500. We drop off our bags of donations. They thank us profusely. Stuff has been brought in from all over the world. Between 150 and 200 people are seen in a day to get clothes. They have learned to keep it very controlled. When they began it was complete chaos; now it is controlled chaos.

The boat spotters are up on the hill with binoculars looking for boats, often overloaded with refugees. If they see boats, a cascade of events kick in. Talk about cold: two people on the hill, take shifts, waiting and watching 24/7. One team was from Ireland and another from California. When the boats come, the medical team does on-site triaging for medical issues. When the new arrivals are stabilized, they are then taken elsewhere.

The sea is turbulent, and it is cold — no snow but chilling weather. Boats are not coming now, so we are going to work outside the camp where the overflow is housed. Outside the camp are hundreds of small summer tents with 10-15 people, families, living in them. People are camping in the olive groves. No one has belongings.

These refugees have fallen through every crack in the universe. They have nothing. They have nowhere to go. There is a huge tent, bigger than a banquet tent that houses the Africans. They are trapped. For more than three years, 150 people have been living in this tent.

There are ethnic clusters; Iraqis, Iranian, Kurds, Afghanis, and Syrian. Omar was going to set up a medical tent for us, but he is concerned about our safety. He thought many hundreds of people could show up, and if they think they are not going to be seen or get medicines, there could be a riot.

We are discussing how to see patients. We think we may go tent to tent with backpacks of medicines and our trauma bag, carry what we need and refill from the van. Two team members, Karen and Brian, will do physio and massage together but we are meeting with “docmobile” and may work with them in their mobile van. That would be best. We have discussed safety awareness and agreed to a meeting place if we get separated or there is any unrest.

We are also talking about protecting our hearts so we can do this work. It is really devastating to see this end of the human spectrum. Who are these refugees? I hope we get to hear some of their stories. What happens when your world disintegrates? It is a much more dangerous situation then we imagined.

I am having some waves of fatigue. Too much to process and too much work to do to get caught up in the process. We will do what we can. We all have recommitted to this. Our situational awareness is heightened and our hearts are open. We are in an apartment in Mytiliene and will look for a house to rent in the hills, 15 minutes from the camp.

Our first world problem is it is almost 10 p.m. and there is no milk for morning coffee.

After initial impressions

It is hard to articulate the scope of emotional reaction. Keeping ones heart open without feeling over whelmed is a challenge. Thank goodness for yoga breathing as a centering tool.

People tend to cluster by ethnic groups — people from every country in the region. Even in a desperate situation, there is discrimination.

We are trying to stay connected but it is hard. Trying to practice staying in heart mode, but this is a challenge for me.

We met up with Omar this morning, and he took us to see the Happy Family project. WOW is a great non-governmental organization, based in Switzerland. They are trying to provide some normalcy to the refugees. They provide meals for up to 800 a day, as well as a gym, a toddler play space, coffee and tea, a place to play games, a barber, tailor, and legal clinic. The German medical NGO, Docmobile, has a clinic space there. They are treating sometimes 150 people a day out of a three-room shed turned into a clinic

I also met Sherif, a Syrian from the UK running a food project called Sultana. They drove a full-size luxury bus converted into a food kitchen from the UK to Greece. It feeds a hot meal to 300-400 people three days a week. He said they could feed more, but need more funds and volunteers. Today, he was cooking cauliflower, potatoes, rice and tomato pasta. Smelled wonderful.

The Moira camp has no hot food program and distributes what looks like military rations. The people say the food is terrible, so this hot delicious food is coveted, hence the registration system. One hundred and fifty people were served today. Many of them got new underwear or a toasty fleece. Today was really cold.

By noon we were outside the Moira camp and did what I can only describe as gorilla medicine. We started with a tent visit to see an Iraqi man with a leg injury; it was bad. We undressed his wound and there was an obvious bone infection. Mark Ibsen, the MD, kept asking the translator ask him how this happened. The man kept saying, kaliznakoff, a Russian gun. That explained the holes in his leg. He also complained about the soles of his feet. We found out that he was tortured in an Iraqi prison and the soles of his feet were beaten.

It took only minutes for the word to be out that there was a doctor. Several men came into the tent and people were standing outside. We decided the safest way to work was out of the van. We folded up the back seats to use as a counter. Tama did the pharmacy from the middle seat, Karen was tasked with finding and delivering supplies. I triaged and Mark saw patients by the back door of the van. Brian kept the van running for a bit of heat and primarily for our safety so if there was any unrest we could just jump in, close the doors and leave.

It seemed fine, though, today. People were grateful. But we heard stories; so many of these people have suffered unimaginable physical and mental abuses. There is so much PTSD. The greatest unmet medical need is for mental health. Some people have just gone crazy. We saw 28 patients, and then the crowd was getting too big, and the wind was blowing really cold. We gave out index cards with numbers and promised to return tomorrow.

We ended our gorilla clinic and did one more tent call. A 26-year-old Syrian man had a pneumonia and both ears were infected. He lives in a summer tent with 13 other people, sleeping on the floor in a light weight sleeping bag. I looked around the tent — such meager possessions, only day packs, half empty. Mark gave the man antibiotics, and I gave him a liter of water.

There are more than 65 million refugees in the world. The UNHCR camp is unmanageably bleak and surrounded by high wire fences. Women, children and families in metal boxes with only two showers.

Toilets overflowing, just horrible conditions. There are portable toilets. No lights. The only heat is in tin cans with wood, but not many of them. No hot food. Mud everywhere. Medicines Without Borders has a tent outside the camp where they are working with kids and pregnant women. They are overwhelmed. We will visit with them today. It just seems there is not enough of anything. People have to queue up for food, medical care, clothing, and not everyone gets what they need. They have to wait several days for anything. That is where the danger lies. People are desperate.

Finally back in the comfort of our BnB, we discuss the logistics of our gorilla medicine. We were finding the rhythm. We are ready to do it again.

Day 3: Stories

We decided to limit our visit and saw 40 patients. Karen was able to do some massage for those injured by bombs. Scabies is rampant. A few had infected throats and some pneumonia. Kids with ear infections. We heard more stories today.

A man from Iraq who suffered injuries from a bomb had head, neck and back trauma. He had major PTSD. Karen did some massage work with him but he could barely tolerate touch. He said his wife and child were in the camp but he was not with them because he had lost his mind and hurt them. He was ashamed. He felt very sad.

Mental health issues are huge here and not being addressed. Many refugees say they cannot sleep and have terrible nightmares. Their reality is a nightmare with no solution in sight. They have hopes of getting through the bureaucratic maze to start their lives again, but that dream becomes more of a nightmare. Desperation replaces the relief of survival.

We met a man from Cameroon who was a rap singer. His parents were murdered, and he had to flee the country. Somehow he got on a plane to Iraq and then walked overland for 30 days to Turkey. There he was beaten so badly by Turkish police, it left him walking with crutches for more than a year.

Brian, our team member, spent some time with this man as they spoke French together. Brian went to the African tent with him. Appalling. There are cages, like large dog kennels, that people cover with blankets and sleep inside. I just cannot understand this inhumane treatment. There is no shower in this overflow camp, and some people said they had not showered for months. Omar’s Refugee4refugees warehouse gives them clean clothes, but the scabies stay with them.

There were some really touching moments. A Syrian man asked us where we were from, asked us if we were being paid, and when we said, “We are from America and we are volunteers,” he was so surprised. He said, “You came here for helping us? You bring us this medicine?” He thanked us profusely.

Today was a good day. A few Syrian men sang to me. I could breathe today.

We left, restocked for tomorrow and went to a medicinal hot spring about 10 minutes from the camp. Our privilege allowed this escape. We decided we will bring some of the men with PTSD to the hot spring as a treatment, to relieve stress. We agonized over doing this for only a few; we cannot do it for all.

Caring for these refugees takes so much. The United Nations has set up the camp but the smaller NGOs, and there are many here, have to pick up the slack. There is so much slack. There are volunteers from all over, mostly Europeans, who are furious at the EU for not stepping up. We also met some Brazilians.

Many of the volunteers come for several months and many have returned. That is a tribute to our humanity. There are people stepping up from all over the world. What about our governments? Greece should be held in the highest esteem for their sympathy. but they are overwhelmed. Their economy has tanked, they grant asylum but there are no jobs. We will do some work in Athens and will see the next stage. My current understanding is that after months or years at the camp, some are granted asylum and are moved to old apartments or hotels in Athens.

Meanwhile we are preparing for tomorrow.

Tama and Valerie are back from and will be talking about their experiences on Wednesday, March 21, in Napa. To attend, email for details.

To learn more about the project or to make donations, visit

This post copied from Napa Valley Register.

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Make Calls for Lauren Underwood – March 20th Primary

So let’s get her nominated as the Democratic nominee.

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March 14th: #ENOUGH! National School Walkout

The Women’s March’s Youth EMPOWER group is planning a national school walkout on March 14, 2018, according to the group’s website. At 10 a.m. in every time zone, organizers are encouraging teachers, students, administrators, parents and allies to walk out for 17 minutes — one for every person killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Locate an action near you.

#Enough, #BastaIn Napa, school leaders are finding a variety of ways to honor the Florida students. Both Napa High School and Vintage High School are planning 17-minute observances on campus Wednesday.

Napa High will be holding a Remembrance ceremony at 10 a.m. in the quad to show empathy and let the victims’ families and friends know that there are people everywhere who are listening and who want to make a change.

Vintage High School is planning its own 17-minute observance on campus.

Justin-Siena High School announced it would hold a “walk-to” event honoring Parkland survivors and their families on the morning of the walkout campaign. Students at the private Catholic academy will leave their classrooms on Maher Street and walk to a “well-planned event” to be organized with help from the school’s student leadership team.

Blue Oak School, school directors are organizing a 17-minute observance nearby at Jefferson and Hayes streets, where junior high students will hold up signs supporting survivors of the Parkland attack.

Stone Bridge School will also have a ceremony.

St. Helena High School, the new “Students for Change” club is planning student walk-out for 17 minutes.

More information found at Napa Valley Register.

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March 24th: Gun Violence Town Hall and Student Rally and Benefit Concert

Para español: por favor vea abajo

March 24th
#MarchforOurLives Events

District Auditorium
Jefferson and Lincoln Avenues
Napa, California

Napa Gun Violence Prevention and School Safety Town Hall 

Napa Student Rally and Benefit Concert For Our Lives

9am – 11am: Town Hall

In response to the shootings at the Yountville Veterans Home,
Jefferson Starbucks and West Park shootings in January, the Parkland Florida School shooting on Valentine’s Day and the countless school and non-school shootings that occur daily in every corner of the country, please join Representative Mike Thompson, Griffin Dix of the Brady Campaign and Napan Jane Williams, both of whom lost children to gun violence, students, local law enforcement, mental health and other officials at a Town Hall to hear about ideas for next steps on solving the gun violence epidemic. Hosted by a group of concerned Napa parents, Women’s March Napa Valley and the League of Women Voters of Napa County, this Town Hall seeks to engage and challenge local, state and federal officials to exhibit leadership on issues vital to student safety, public health and community well being.

11am – 1pm:   Rally and Concert

After the Town Hall, Napa Students will lead a Rally and Benefit Concert to support the “March for Our Lives” protest in Washington, D.C.  Students from Napa High, Vintage, Justin Sienna, New Technology, and American Canyon High School will perform and speak on gun violence prevention and school safety issues of concern to them.  Attendees are encouraged to wear orange as a symbol of their support for the national effort and donate to the national “March for Our Lives” campaign.  Bring a blanket, signs and your friends and enjoy the “Napa Student Rally and Benefit Concert for our Lives.”

Parking is along Jefferson, along Lincoln in the District Auditorium lot and in the main lot at Napa High. Please pack in and pack out all trash and recyclables. [Event will be held rain or shine.]



Marcha por Nuestras Vidas ~Marcha de la Mujer Napa Valley

Valle de Napa. Únanse a nosotros en una
Reunión de Ayuntamiento, & 
 Manifestation por Nuestras Vidas

24 de Marzo, 2018
Auditorio del Distrito
Avenidas Jefferson y Lincoln

Prevención de Violencia Armada y Seguridad de Escuelas de Napa

Reunión de Estudiantes de Napa y Concierto a Beneficio de Nuestras Vidas

9-11AM Reunión de Ayuntamiento
En respuesta a los tiroteos de la casa de los veteranos, West Park y Starbucks de la Avenida Jefferson en nuestra comunidad en 2018, el tiroteo de la Escuela Parkland de la Florida en el Día de San Valentín y los innumerables tiroteos escolares y no escolares que ocurren a diario en cada rincón del país, únanse con Representante Mike Thompson, Griffin Dix de la Campaña Brady y Jane Williams de Napa (ambos de los cuales perdieron niños por violencia con armas de fuego) estudiantes, agencias locales policiacas, salud mental y otros funcionarios en un reunión de ayuntamiento para escuchar ideas sobre los próximos pasos para resolver la epidemia de violencia con armas de fuego.
Organizado por un grupo de padres preocupados de Napa, Marcha de Mujeres y la Liga de Mujeres Votantes del Valle de Napa, esta reunión de ayuntamiento busca comprometer y desafiar a los funcionarios locales, estatales y federales para que muestren liderazgo en cuestiones vitales para la seguridad de los estudiantes, la salud pública y el bienestar de la comunidad.
11AM-1PM Manifestation de Estudiantes y Concierto
Después de la reunión, los estudiantes de Napa dirigirán un concierto, manifestación y beneficio para apoyar la protesta “Marcha por Nuestras Vidas” en Washington, DC. Los estudiantes de Napa, Vintage, Justin Sienna, New Technology y American Canyon High School actuarán y hablarán sobre prevención de violencia con armas de fuego y asuntos de seguridad escolar que les preocupan. Se alienta a los que asistan de usar el color naranja como símbolo de su apoyo al esfuerzo nacional y donar a la campaña nacional “Marcha por Nuestras Vidas”. Traiga una cobija, letreros y sus amigos y disfrute de la “Manifestación estudiantil de Napa y el concierto benéfico para nuestras vidas”.
El estacionamiento está a lo largo de Jefferson, a lo largo de Lincoln en el lote del auditorio del distrito y en el estacionamiento principal de Napa High. Por favor, junte toda su basura y reciclables.
[Evento se llevará al cabo si llueve.]

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JOIN Sacramento Indivisible Regional Action Network, and lots of other action groups in protest of the Attorney General and director of the DOJ, Jeff Sessions, appearance and “announcement about sanctuary cities” tomorrow at a law enforcement conference.

At the Kimpton Sawyer 500 J St, Sacramento, CA 95814

He is scheduled to speak at 8:05am so please arrive between 7am & 8am, as he’ll likely be there early.

“U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will make a “major sanctuary jurisdiction announcement” in Sacramento on Wednesday, just blocks from the state Capitol where legislative Democrats and California Gov. Jerry Brown passed a “sanctuary state” law last year.

The Department of Justice announced Sessions will attend the annual Law Enforcement Legislative Day hosted by the California Peace Officers Association and several other groups. He is scheduled to speak at the Kimpton Sawyer Hotel — the new hotel next to the Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento — at 8:05 a.m.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has been among the most vocal critics of Sessions and President Trump’s immigration enforcement actions and has warned businesses not to cooperate with federal immigration authorities without a warrant, is also scheduled to speak.

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Congressman Thompson: Preventing Gun Violence



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Dear Friend,

The last two weeks have been tragic as we grapple with the deaths of 17 students and teachers in Parklsign up for updatesand. We have also been uplifted and inspired by the young people who push to prevent gun violence. It is another send me a messagereminder that the majority of Americans want Congress to come to the table and take action.

There are solutions. This year, I introduced a bill that would create a Select Committee to study gun violence so we have recommendations on the best policy map forward. Yet Republican leaders won’t give it a vote. I also introduced bipartisan legislation that will improve and expand our background check system by closing loopholes, an idea that again, a majority of Americans support. No vote was held on this bill. And throughout my career, I’ve worked to help improve our mental health system, repeal the Dickey Amendment and allow the Centers for Disease Control to study gun violence. These are simple and commonsense proposals, yet Republican leaders have refused to act.

Please know that my fight to keep our children and communities safe will not stop. Thank you to the many in our district and across our nation who have spoken up and spoken out. Your voices are heard and I am fighting to take action to prevent gun violence.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Mike Thompson
Mike Thompson
Member of Congress
231 Cannon Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3311
Fax: (202) 225-4335
2721 Napa Valley Corporate Dr.
Napa, CA 94558
Phone: (707) 226-9898
Fax: (707) 251-9800
420 Virginia St., Suite 1C
Vallejo, CA 94590
Phone: (707) 645-1888
Fax: (707) 645-1870
2300 County center Dr., Suite A-100
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Phone: (707) 542-7182
Fax: (707) 542-2745

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On March 24, the kids and families of March For Our Lives will take to the streets of Washington DC to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end gun violence and mass shootings in our schools today.

March with us in Washington DC or march in your own community. On March 24, the collective voices of the March For Our Lives movement will be heard.

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Rep. Thompson Statement on Constituent Services and Legislation in 2017 – PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release:
January 8, 2018
Contact:  TJ Adams-Falconer 202-225-3311

Rep. Thompson Statement on Constituent Services and Legislation in 2017

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-05) released the following statement about the services he provided to constituents and the legislation he sponsored in 2017:

“As a Member of Congress, serving you is at the very heart of the work I do every day. That’s not only by voting and working on your priorities, but by being your champion in the federal government. This includes helping you solve issues with a federal agency, assisting you in collecting money the government might owe you, or simply having an open dialogue about the issues you find most important.

“In 2017, I was so proud to be able to help 1,132 constituents navigate an issue they had with the federal government, securing a total of $652,746.87 worth of benefits or payments many were owed. I also had the pleasure of sending over 82,000 letters to constituents to discuss the priorities they care most about. And for those constituents who made a trip out to Washington, DC, I was able to secure them 430 Capitol tours and 181 White House tours. The ability to directly assist constituents like this is one of the highest privileges and joys of my job.

“I was also proud to introduce 20 bills and cosponsor 250 other bills and resolutions to advance the priorities of our community. These bills help strengthen our healthcare systems, protect our environment, deliver relief to fire survivors, help reduce gun violence, and much more. These also included several pieces of legislation that were signed into law, including the Jack Alderson Toxic Exposure Declassification Act which gives veterans exposed to toxic substances access to the answers and care they deserve.

“As we enter the new year, I want to remind all of those living in California’s 5th Congressional District about the services my office provides directly to constituents. A detailed list of those services can be found here. I am here to listen to you and ensure that your government works for you.”


Congressman Mike Thompson is proud to represent California’s 5th Congressional District, which includes all or part of Contra Costa, Lake, Napa, Solano and Sonoma Counties. He is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Thompson is also a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and chairs the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force as well as the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Wine Caucus.

United States House of Representatives
231 Cannon House Office Building • Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202-225-3311 • Fax: 202-225-4335

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Prepare to Mobilize if Consitutional Crisis Arises

Please sign up for the Napa Valley ACTS alert list today so you can be notified quickly in the event of a constitutional crisis (such as Rober Mueller being fired) on where and when to mobilize.

If this becomes necessary, please come out if you can. 

MoveOn has created a similar plan. Click here to  sign up here for MoveOn text alert, too.  Always a good idea to be doubly-prepared!  And speaking of being prepared, please review our recommendations for creating a Rapid Mobilization Kit so you’re ready to grab and go!
When Would We Be Called to Mobilize?
In Napa, if a crisis occurs before 2 PM on any given day, the rally would begin same day at 5 PM.  If a crisis occurred after 2 PM the rally would begin the following day at 12 PM (noon).
Where Would We Rally?

 Somewhere central in the City of Napa. You will receive a text/email with instructions on exactly where we will rally and where you might park.

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