Atma Connect is at the intersection of innovation and community. AtmaGo’s technology platform and programs are unique, but our philosophy remains based on a simple concept: neighbors supporting neighbors. In Indonesia and Puerto Rico, the vulnerable people who want to improve their communities are the leaders generating positive social change. Their local actions create ripples, that through AtmaGo, can reach and inspire thousands more.
AtmaGo is technology that amplifies the stories that matter
“I have been using AtmaGo since the pandemic started, because it contains a lot of information related not only to COVID-19, but also job openings that might be useful to share with my neighbors. What I found interesting was the ability of AtmaGo to create an anti-hoax system so the information available is valid. Users can also publish their initiatives, as well as reporting broken infrastructure around them. With its simplicity, AtmaGo was easy to use, and above all, it’s really a platform specially designated for neighbors helping neighbors.”
Yos Rizal Ismail, AtmaGo user in Brebes District, Central Java
From Indonesia to Puerto Rico: Women creating food security
Ibu Nur Khosi’ah shares her inspiring story of creating resilience for women during Covid-19 to build food security.
Ibu Nur Khosi’ah has been focusing her work on creating women’s resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her movement involves encouraging local women to plant crops that can feed themselves and their families. By converting a piece of landfill into farming land, these women are growing peanuts to restore soil nutrition and other crops such as bananas as a food source. The planting activities (called andur in the local dialect) also serve as recreational activities that are connecting communities during the pandemic. Ibu Nur Khosi’ah believes that this connection will boost the human body’s immune system, as “a happy heart will lead to a healthy body.”
“This group of women started with the Garrochales Produce initiative which was born out of this pandemic. We as a community have seen how certain issues do not get the attention they deserve. We want to bring attention to our community garden initiatives so that other community members can feel inspired and replicate it in their communities.”
Marta Santos, a community leader for an initiative addressing food insecurity in communities on the northeast coast of Puerto Rico.
Atma Creates Community Impact at Scale
Our achievements over the past year reflect real people in Indonesia and Puerto Rico who are supporting their neighbors and enacting change in their communities despite the challenges they face.
In 2020, we reached 759,306 people in Indonesia on AtmaGo, and 148,301 people in Puerto Rico with neighbors helping neighbors AtmaGo content.
Following the COVID-19 global pandemic, in a matter of a few weeks, Atma rapidly launched a community-centered, all in one resource on COVID-19. Covid19.atmago.com, which we amplified through other social media. COVID-19 information reached over 1.3M hard to reach people in Indonesia and Puerto Rico.
The virus has disproportionately affected low-income people and women. To combat this, Atma Connect shifted strategies to reach these vulnerable groups, and we increased the number of women users from 45% (2019) to 54% (2020).
During a post event survey administered by Atma Connect, 100% of respondents said that they trust the information on AtmaGo and 85% of respondents said that they will change their behavior towards COVID-19 as a result of information on AtmaGo.
78 free telecounseling services were provided through AtmaGo for people facing mental health challenges due to the pandemic. Clients reported an average 4.5 reduction in the subjective unit of disturbance score from pre to post-counseling sessions (10 point scale).
Radio streaming on Salam Radio featured interviews with small businesses on the topic of surviving as a business during the pandemic received 12,856 total listening hours.
In response to COVID-19, Atma pledged with 30 other local organizations in Puerto Rico to supportpreventing the spread of COVID-19 at the community level.
Atma trained 166 Puerto Rican residents, 130 of them women, on citizen journalism and information as a tool for community empowerment.
In Puerto Rico, we facilitated 11 citizen journalism and community empowerment workshops in 2020: 2 in-person workshops (pre-pandemic), and 9 virtual training workshops.
This is just a small glimpse of the incredible impact Atma Connect had last year!! We know there are more stories to be told, and solutions to be spread, and we will continue to support and amplify the leaders writing them.
In this interview blog series, we are highlighting our inspiring Atma Community including employees, supporters, and board members.
Meet Alfan, Atma Connect’s Field Director! Working on the ground in Indonesia, Alfan brings Atma’s products and programs to local communities to give them the power and support to better their lives and the lives of those around them. Alfan has helped grow the AtmaGo platform to reach more people in Indonesia and he believes in the power and spirit of neighbors helping neighbors.
Q: What are you most proud of that Atma has accomplished?
Alfan (A): I am proud of Atma Connect for consistently moving towards community empowerment through information technology by taking a direct approach to grassroots movements. I am proud of the programs we run including digital literacy training, citizen journalism and direct mentoring programs. Atma Connect has also contributed to how communities in Indonesia have handled the COVID-19 pandemic by developing a platform specifically dedicated to health campaigns, free counseling, and reducing negative stigma during times of crisis. That means a lot for our society.
Q: Why do you believe in Atma’s vision?
A: I believe in the people behind Atma Connect, the people who are driving the vision. They are people who are highly dedicated to social development and who are experts in the field of digital platform development. Everyone in the Atma Community is experienced and talented.
Q: What inspires you about Atma’s approach?
A: In the digital era, the opportunity to contribute positively to society is wide open. I am inspired by people who are able to motivate others to do good. Digital platforms like AtmaGo are able to reach a large audience and achieve positive impact effectively.
While Atma Connect runs a digital-based platform AtmaGo, we also carry out direct offline mentoring activities by providing digital literacy and citizen journalism trainings. For grassroots communities this kind of training is very impactful. I am inspired by how Atma Connect is increasing the level of digital literacy for local communities.
Q: What are your personal goals with Atma Connect? What would you like to accomplish in the next year?
A: I want to open more Citizen Journalism and Digital Literacy classes in areas where that information is needed the most. Comprehensive classes with a simple curriculum and support from experts in their fields amplifies the voices of ordinary citizens. I want to help grow AtmaGo’s community and impact.
Q: What has been your favorite moment or story to come from working with Atma Connect?
A: My favorite memory is when we had both the US and Indonesian teams meet in person. It’s very valuable and special when the US team visits Indonesia!
Our April newsletter is filled with a lot to celebrate!
Thank you for your continued support of Atma Connect. Today we are excited to share with you what we have been working on over the past few months and celebrate the incredible impact we have collectively achieved!
Atma Connect’s Impact
Our team created a video to highlight our incredible impact in communities across the world:
Happy 5 Years of Atma
On April 7, 2021 Atma Connect celebrated the 5 year anniversary of our incorporation with a social media campaign #5YearsofAtma. Inspiring members in our community from across the world posted on social media to share what Atma Connect means to them:
The past five years have been transformative
We have reached over 7 million people from Indonesia to Puerto Rico, and have measurably improved lives, communities, and the environment — by offering life-saving disaster alerts, neighbor to neighbor support, job and volunteering opportunities, and more.
“After the disaster, AtmaGo helped us with our recovery efforts so we were able to get back on our feet through helping each other. For example, we held a campaign to clean up the neighborhood and plant trees together.” – Fajar, Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami survivor
And, our inspirational team at Atma Connect has helped facilitate and shine a light on the brilliance that exists in every community.
“Before working with Atma, I knew that there were community-oriented efforts on the island. However, whenever I saw a problem or a difficult situation, I believed that these efforts held no power and that they could not address the needs of our people.
With Atma, I began to look deeper into my island and my people, because I was bringing them a tool that would help them connect with their neighbors and multiply their community efforts. That was when I learned that my communities not only have voices, but they also have the power to impact the lives around them. Atma Connect has helped me reconnect with my people. – Erika, Puerto Rico Program Associate, Atma Connect
With your support, we have built an amazing community of leaders, thinkers, and supporters who believe in the power of citizen journalism to strengthen civil society, the ability of neighbors helping neighbors to build resilience, and the importance of connection.
“What Atma has shown the world is that when we let the people who are the most affected, and who are the least heard, lead the way — they will lead us to the more connected, equitable, resilient world we’ve been waiting for. They’ve demonstrated this, and at scale.” – Meena Palaniappan, Founder and CEO at Atma Connect
So yes, the last five years have been systems-changing and we can’t wait to share the mountains we will move together in the next five years 🙂 !
Community Leaders Event
On Saturday, April 1th, 2021, Atma Connect held a one-day webinar with 30 community leaders from various locations in Indonesia. Our community leaders included village literacy activists, public policy activists, women’s empowerment caseworkers, arts and culture conservationists, and environmental activists. We empowered these leaders with skills and tools to expand their effectiveness as agents of change in their neighborhood and communities.
Topics covered in the webinar included:
How to handle gender-based violence cases with Mrs. Lely Zailani, the Director of HAPSARI (the Association of Indonesian Women’s Union).
What advocacy techniques were effective in getting the attention of policy makers to better address community needs from Widi Heriyanto.
A presentation on the AtmaGo application and testing the new Community Room feature delivered by Silvia Yulianti and Aisyah Gunung from our Atma Connect Team.
“In our area, the community of art and culture studios do not get enough attention from the government. Many studios are abandoned due to a lack of financial support (from the government). I believe the material on ‘advocacy techniques to reach policy makers’ taught in this webinar including the examples of best practices will be effective in helping us communicate with the right stakeholders to succeed in our campaigns.” – Zulkarna, webinar participant and chairman of the Community of Teacher Artists (KOSERU) of Central Lombok Regency
“It was very nice to be able to share my experience with other community leaders. Kudos to Atma Connect and its AtmaGo platform because it embraces the general public and encourages grassroots movements. AtmaGo has made itself a vehicle for interaction and learning between neighbors in very unique and effective ways.” – Widi Heriyanto, webinar presenter.
Designing A Better Future: AtmaGo Product Updates
Over the past 6 months, Atma Connect has worked to reimagine the AtmaGo app to better serve the needs and goals of our users.
New features launched in 2021
The community feature was launched as a beta in March 2021. Designed to meet key needs of community leaders that are not being met through services like Facebook groups. What makes this feature uniquely valuable is that community pages allow community leaders and organizations to track and document their impact. This will enable funding, resources, and community support to flow to the project, inspire other leaders and communities about what can be achieved, and allow this impact to be aggregated at scale. The community feature allows leaders to add new members to community groups, create an event, and attract new attention and volunteers to their causes. Future revisions of the community feature will allow group leaders to monitor their community growth.
“AtmaGo’s new homepage is fresh and easy to navigate when you want specific information. The app is very user friendly!” – Danardono, AtmaGo user.
A new video feature on the homepage is currently being tested and is designed to increase engagement rates.
“The new homepage is very attractive now and rich in features! Visitors will be impressed!” – Rizky Febriansyah, AtmaGo user.
Our new topic feature launched in February, 2021 allows users to filter their feeds and find the topics that are most relevant to them.
“The addition of topics on Atmago is great. It allows me to search for the specific topics I am interested in!” – Fadly Biluping, North Luwu, AtmaGo user
“The topics feature on AtmaGo allows me to easily select the information I need the most. This could be especially useful in the event of a disaster.” – Arsono, Brebes Central Java, AtmaGo user
Wishing everyone a Happy Ramadan, Happy Earth Day, and a wonderful month ahead!
As we celebrate Women’s History Month in the United States, we want to highlight the many ways that women and girls are leading the way towards equitable COVID-19 recovery and response, and creating solutions to promote and ensure a gender-equal world.
In Indonesia, women are emerging as leaders in their communities during the pandemic by creating innovative solutions to their most urgent challenges. Their local actions are creating ripples that are reaching and inspiring hundreds more.
“Indonesian women are tough and would do anything in their power to find solutions to their problems.” – Sri Sulistiyani (Ibu Sulis), East Java
Ibu Sulis is a local activist and the executive director of Gerakan Peduli Perempuan Jember. Previously working as a math teacher, she was inspired to become a volunteer to fight for women’s empowerment and resilience in Jember. Today, Ibu Sulis is active in a number of women’s support and entrepreneurship initiatives. She, like so many of her peers, has shifted her focus to support vulnerable women through the pandemic.
According to Ibu Sulis, in Indonesia there has been a 38% increase in the number of domestic violence cases handled by the Jentera Women of Indonesia Legal Aid from 76 cases in 2019 to 105 cases in 2020. In a recent local article, Ibu Sulis says that she can’t bear to see domestic violence occurring in her community. In the article she explains how she has friends who have experienced domestic violence, yet refused to separate from their husbands. She explains that most of these women are afraid to leave abusive relationships and need help and encouragement. She has been supporting victims of domestic violence through the pandemic with online and offline consultations, legal aid, and even economic support.
“Most of our members have lost their jobs,” explains Ibu Sulis. Yet, the challenges these local women are facing only fuel their desire to overcome them. For Ibu Sulis, her work has built solidarity among women and increased their resilience during the pandemic. Today she continues her work collecting donations for women in need, encouraging food security, and conducting online business coaching.
Impact Stories: Women Become their Family’s “Economic Warrior”
“There are many stories of women in Jember who have become the economic warriors in their family,” – Ibu Sulis
A mother found herself becoming an “economic warrior” in her family when her husband lost his job as a blacksmith. She received basic staple donations including rice, eggs, and cooking oil from Ibu Sulis and her charitable organizations. The mother turned the rice into rice flour, mixed it with the eggs and cooking oil, and made cookies that she now sells. She uses the money she earns from selling the cookies to buy more ingredients. To date, she has sold 10 kilograms of cookies. “Now she runs her growing snack business and sells her snacks through Pasar Kita,” explains Ibu Sulis.
Another example is a local woman who used to own a food catering business but lost her income during the pandemic. By transitioning to a teacher, she became an “economic warrior” in her family. She now has plenty of work teaching children privately in their homes.
Increasing Mutual Support is How Society Increases Resilience
Strengthening civil society is the most effective way to create local solutions, encourage collective action, and build community resilience.
“I enjoy making a difference. This passion has turned into a kind of magnet that keeps attracting others who share my similar interests and vision. As more friends joined me, we formed collaborations to create a network for common good.” – Ibu Sulis
Ibu Sulis promotes her social movement on AtmaGo. “As a social activist, I believe social movements need a media platform to build people’s critical awareness, publish and highlight our movements, and inspire others.”
The story of Ibu Sulis is one of many. Women are playing a huge role in increasing mutual support in Indonesia. Rather than letting their vulnerability pull them down, with support from each other, women are rising up and bettering their lives, communities, and society.
If 2020 taught us anything, it is the need to build more resilient communities.
At Atma, we envision a world where everyone – regardless of location, age, race, or gender – is resilient to pandemics, climate change, and social conflict. As an Atma ally, we know you believe in this vision as much as we do!
This year has the potential to be a transformative year. We need to expand our impact beyond the current challenges, because the reality is – there will be new challenges.
How can we continue to adapt to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? How can we empower vulnerable communities affected by climate change to lead the change they most need? How can we use technology as a tool for good?
We will also see new opportunities for change, new leaders emerging at the community level, and new examples of hope for a better future.
On January 18, in the United States, we celebrated the life and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King reminds us that “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
There is no greater power than the power of people helping people.
It is what we see every day, in communities across Indonesia and Puerto Rico. Every day people who are inspiring, imagining, and initiating change in their communities are the true leaders. It is a privilege to support their impact.
There is so much more work to do.
We are excited to announce that we will be launching a new AtmaGo in 2021 to bring community resilience projects, led by local people for the benefit of local people, to the forefront. We are making it easier than ever for Community Leaders to track and share their impact, engage and expand their community, and generate more support for their work.