How Two Young Sisters Make a Significant Difference

  • Two young sisters have worked on a project for the past few years that is making a significant difference in Bali, Indonesia.

  • They share some of the lessons they have learned during their journey.

  • They want to encourage other youth and state, “We’re not telling you it’s going to be easy. We’re telling you it’s going to be worth it.” 

Melati and Isabel Wijsen are on a mission to stop plastic bags being used on their beautiful island home of Bali. Their efforts — including petitions, beach cleanups, even a hunger strike — paid off when they convinced their governor to commit to a plastic bag-free Bali by 2018.

The two sisters, Melati and Isabel Wijsen started when they were 10 and 12 years old after a discussion at school about significant people, such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, etc. who had made big changes in the world.  After this they wondered how they could also be significant. They considered some of the issues facing Bali and they thought of the plastic garbage and had the idea that they could have an impact on reducing the use of plastic bags in Bali. Plastic bags are essentially indestructible, yet they’re used and thrown away with reckless abandon. Most end up in the ocean, where they pollute the water and harm marine life; the rest are burned in garbage piles, where they release harmful dioxins into the atmosphere.

Inspired by similar measures in other parts of the world, Melati and Isabel launched the campaign Bye Bye Plastic Bags in 2013, which received worldwide support — and recently succeeded in getting the island’s governor to commit to a ban of the use of plastic bags by 2018. The two sisters, who frequent the environmentally minded Green School in Bali along with a crew of like motivated children, continue to ask the question: How can we make a difference in the world?

In a TedTalk they mentioned some lessons they learned over the past years about how to make a difference.

Lesson 1: You cannot do it by yourself.

Lesson 2: Think outside the box.

Lesson 3: Persistence

Lesson 4: You need champions at all levels of society.

They also learned about patience, how to deal with frustration, leadership, teamwork, friendship, and the importance of commitment.

These sisters, Melati and Isabel are examples of what our youth are capable of achieving by using the above mentioned skills.

“Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re too young or you won’t understand,” Isabel says to other aspiring activists. “We’re not telling you it’s going to be easy. We’re telling you it’s going to be worth it.”

If we coach our youth and assist them in acquiring self-confidence and finding their voices, we will be helping them face and change the future as they approach and reach adulthood.

Here is their TedTalk which they presented in London, England in September 2015.

What are your thoughts and comments?

Wishing you lots of love and laughter, as always.

Fred Jones

Victoria, BC Canada

Fred Jones

Fred Jones


Posted in Blog, Coaching, Program Activities and tagged , , , , , , , .

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