Yasmina Hasni: “The environmental issue is a parents’ issue” mobilizing mothers for climate action in Indonesia

38-year-old Yasmina Hasni found herself grappling with anxiety over climate change. She decided that the best way forward was to share the anxiety and find a solution. This thought led her to creating Peri Bumi – which translates to Earth Fairy in English – a space for mothers from Indonesia to have conversations about and act on climate change. With a background in early years education and social work, Yasmina’s work combines education, parenting, and nature connection. In this piece, she shares her thoughts on how climate action can be taken through parenting and women’s empowerment.

We often think that people don’t care but that’s far from the truth. They don’t know and therefore they don’t care. They feel that if it’s not in my backyard, it’s not my problem. So, this is where I start from – spreading basic awareness that some of us take for granted. This of course, stemmed from my main concern and worry – the future of my kids. The environmental issue is a parents’ issue.

When working with my preschool, I saw that mothers felt threatened by climate change. They wanted to face that fear and start taking action. But how? At Peri Bumi we gather moms from all over Indonesia online – we learn how to nurture our kids, how to educate others, and be mindful of our consumption practices.

We started small – with those closest to us. No change can be made unless you start with that very small circle closest to you. In fact I had to find 66 moms in January 2022, to participate in a workshop we were conducting. I thought it would be so hard to find them. 400 moms registered! 400 moms sent in their motivation letters. Reading them made me so happy. It gave me hope because moms are key actors if you want to bring about change. These moms are now working on their projects – they have their own businesses of recycling and upcycling. They are fixing their rice fields and they are spreading the word within their community. It’s not on a huge scale maybe but it gives me the courage to do more, and it shows me that moms are willing to do whatever it takes to fix the future for their children.

Why do I focus on parenting? In Indonesia we have a traditional lifestyle that cares for the environment – we don’t use plastic; we wrap products in banana leaves. However, that has changed over the years. We were more mindful earlier. Now we have all the information on our fingertips, on our gadgets, but we’ve lost our knowledge.  We don’t communicate directly, we don’t share our thoughts, we don’t even hug! We seem to have lost the act of caring. Even care for children today is all about educational and financial goals. We don’t think about what kind of world we are leaving them.

We’re feeling the effects of climate change already. The rains have changed – it normally rains from September through January but these days it seems to be raining all the time. If it’s not raining, it’s forest fires! Everyone has an allergy or respiratory problem. We’re talking about air pollution all the time and we don’t allow our children to play outside so they’re stuck indoors with their gadgets. Indoors we use our ACs. If we need to step out we use our cars and perpetuate this cycle of polluted air. How can we teach children to enjoy and respect nature if they can’t spend time outdoors? So, now on good days, we’re encouraging our children to ramble outdoors.

We hope that by changing our ways, the government will change their policies too. Right now there’s no focus on segregation of waste, it’s all about incineration. We need behaviors to change at all levels of society.

How am I furthering my work? I collaborate with friends from other organizations. We train our ambassadors to become entrepreneurs so that they can spread the empowerment and widen networks.

I’ve learnt so much from the Fellowship. I’m now thinking about asking moms from across the global movement for help. Maybe they can engage with our ambassadors and help me raise awareness. We can hold workshops or sessions about what moms are doing in other countries. By sharing knowledge, we make connections and get new ideas.

I hope we become a world where families and schools grow, connect and work with each other. We need a mindful society and a connected society to save the future of our children on earth.