“There are many things, big or small, that can be done by citizens in an effort to slow down the spread of the virus through mutual help and cooperation  among all elements of society, government, and private sector.” 
- Alfan Kasdar, Indonesia Field Director

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the lives and livelihoods of people around the world making these last months extremely difficult for civil society organizations. As the health crisis takes precedence all over the world, organizations not working on treating Covid-19 have seen a decrease in sponsorship and funding. Government travel bans and lockdowns have made it harder for organizations to do their work. Border closures have disconnected us from the people we work with as our work has moved online. While this roadblock makes the path difficult, there is nothing that cannot be accomplished, as our Indonesian director Alfan writes, through mutual aid and cooperation between all elements of society.

Our innovative mobile app and website, AtmaGo, helped us move online quickly and get accustomed to the new normal. While AtmaGo was originally designed to connect neighbors to neighbors in disaster situations such as hurricanes and earthquakes, we found that we could also use it to connect people with each other when they were socially disconnected due to the pandemic. Puerto Rico, where we had brought Atma Go in the wake of hurricane Maria, suffered through one of the toughest lockdowns in America. People needed to help each other.

While the pandemic itself was a roadblock for everyone, something that crept into our lives and stole things of value from us, our specific roadblock came in trying to maintain our mission of connection at a time when physical connection was deemed dangerous. With the help of Open Road Alliance, we were able to do so.

Now, we have a specific Covid-19 microsite built into AtmaGo that provides specific and accurate information on the pandemic at a local level - statistics, requests for help, and up to date information. We also added a tele-counselling service so that those who are suffering from mental health issues added to their daily lives can get help.  And, most importantly, we managed to spark what the Indonesians call Gotong Royong, or the spirit of mutual cooperation. We´ve seen users set up mobile Covid-19 community efforts to build hand washing stations in Indonesia. We´ve seen Puerto Ricans address the food insecurity brought about by shutdowns by planting community gardens, and everywhere, we´ve seen people check in with each other.

“Are you okay?”

 “How can I help?”

“I have what you need”

Gotong Royong. That's how we overcame our roadblock.