Mohammad and Melati in the refugee school.

Bigger Than Us

Posted by Speakeasy News > Sunday 10 October 2021 > Shine Bright Lycée What's On

This inspiring documentary features teen activists around the world who see a problem and try to fix it. From Malawi to Colorado they are fighting pollution, opposing child marriage, supporting education, freedom of speech and sustainable agriculture and demanding rights for the planet and indigenous people.

Melati Wijsen and her sister founded Bye Bye Plastic Bags, to fight the plastic waste which washes up in the shores of Indonesia when they were just 12 and 10. Filmmaker Flore Vasseur met Melati while making a documentary, and a few years on, the pair decided to meet other young people trying to help their communities and the planet.

In Africa they met two young women. Memory Banda in Malawi ran a campaign to raise the minimum age for marriage from 15 to 18 to protect girls from forced marriages and encourage their families to continue their education. Winnie Tushabe has helped 900 Ugandan families learn new agricultural techniques to gain food security. Like much of the continent, their land had been damaged by pesticides and Winnie taught them to use permaculture to grow crops and protect the soil.

Memory Banda.

At the age of 12, Mohammad Al Jaounde, a Syrian living with his family in a refugee camp in the Lebanon, created a school for children like him. Today it has 200 pupils (top photo) and Mohammad continues to run it virtually from Sweden, where he has found refuge.

British teenager Mary Finn also helps refugees from Middle-East conflicts, arriving in Greece. She’s now training as a midwife to continue her humanitarian work.

Rene Silva lives in a favela in Brazil. At age 11 he created Vos das Comunidas to allow his community to create and share its own news. It now employs 16 journalists and campaigns for freedom of expression.

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez began campaigning as a young teen in Colorado on environmental issues. He’s also a talented rapper and keen to share his First Nations culture. He is one of a group of teens behind a group-action case asserting the U.S. government is flouting their rights by not protecting them from climate change.

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez.

All of these stories make up the feature-length documentary Bigger Than Us. So many of us find the problems we see around us so enormous they seem insurmountable. It’s inspiring to watch these young people who see a problem and decide to try to fix it, not wait for grown-ups to come along and do the job!

See our Ready-to-use resource on Xiuhtezcatl Martinez.


Watch the trailer

Bigger Than Us
On general release in cinemas

The film website gives lots of information about the different campaigners and their causes, and gives a link to contact each one. Could be a good class project!

Webpicks Useful websites and online tools for classroom use
> Videos of a Teenage Eco-Warrior
> Greta’s Speech
Ready to Use Downloadable resources ready to use in class
> Eco-Warrior
> Refugee Speech