In every crisis, there are heroes. In the Covid-19 crisis Puerto Ricans have praised police, nurses, and doctors by hanging banners and posting memes on social media about their heroic efforts. These are the most visible heroes of this pandemic. And, there are others  who are behind the scenes and also on the front lines — people who stock and work at grocery stores, those who bring groceries to elderly and disabled community members, and people who are helping to bridge the digital divide for children continuing the school year at home.

On AtmaGo, an incredible user, Mariny (pictured below), is sharing the stories of these unsung heroes to amplify the spirit of mutual aid throughout Puerto Rican communities.

Mariny, a community leader of Naguabo, a municipality located in the eastern portion of the island, began highlighting community members going about their everyday lives and how their small and yet inspirational gestures are having a lasting impact in their communities on PR.AtmaGo.com. Her posts celebrate the courage of everyday individuals on the frontlines of this pandemic, grocery store attendants, nurses, community leaders, and small, family owned corner stores meeting the immediate needs of the community, educating on hygiene practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and organizing to prepare for the short and long term impacts of this pandemic on their communities.

In one post she highlights the work of Maribel, a 2nd generation community leader who runs the community space her father established to serve as a resource for the residents of Naguabo. Her work during the pandemic has been to organize the distribution of groceries to elderly community members and coordinate a group of volunteer nurses to follow up on bed ridden community members. Through the community center Maribel provides support to families with children making sure students in the community have access to their lessons by printing them, understanding that the digital divide is a reality for most of the residents in Naguabo and that most children would not have access to their lessons if it were not for the printing facilities available at the center. Maribel also utilizes her skills as a graphic designer to create educational resources on COVID-19 for her community.

In another post, Mariny highlights Cynthia, a community leader of barrio Duque in Naguabo. Mariny writes that Cynthia is a hero from a threefold battle: she is a survivor of cancer, her spouse is a dialysis patient, and she is a clerk at a supermarket chain in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mariny shares that like many, despite the concern of getting infected, Cynthia has no choice but to continue going to work to make a livelihood for her household. After work, Cynthia checks in with residents in her community, ensuring the wellbeing of her neighbors, especially those who live by themselves, and coordinating the delivery of any donated resources to the most vulnerable in her area. In this post, Mariny highlights that Cynthia’s strengths, her superhero powers, are her lived experiences and her faith, and this is what gives her the courage to continue. 

 In her posts, Mariny emphasizes the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic, calling out the courage of these heros with masks, even when having to confront people who are not taking the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. In several other posts Mariny highlights other community leaders in the region of Naguabo using the opportunity of bringing cooked food and groceries to elderly and families in their communities to teach about important hygiene practices to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus and how to correctly use a face mask. 

 Our goal is to build and amplify AtmaGo’s role as a tool that will create behavior change to save lives during the COVID-19 crisis, create localized mutual support communities to address immediate needs during the COVID-19 crisis, and address long term recovery through governance and economic empowerment on the platform.

 There is a need for a central resource hub that synthesizes official information and that serves as a repository for community members to share their needs and stories during this period. The power of these stories to shift behavior and foster online and offline mutual support communities will have rippling effects in saving lives and mitigate the impact of economic loss by bolstering social stability and cohesion. 

En solidaridad,

Natasha Mevs-Korff
Partnerships and Operations Associate
Atma Connect