- Ayyam-i-Ha is a Baha’i festival that is joyously celebrated in countries and territories all over the world. It is a time of hospitality, generosity, and caring for the needy. This year Ayyam-i-Ha runs from February 26-29.
My kids and I love reading with our ears. Did you know that listening to stories and audiobooks is a form of reading? There seems to always be one story or another playing amidst all the other sounds of family life.
I was excited when Daniel Ma’ani of the Anis Foundation contacted us to tell us a little bit about their Baha’i-inspired audio initiative:
Hi Daniel! Thanks for reaching out! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a singer songwriter who works on many projects connected with creativity and kindness. I started working with the Anis Foundation in 2021 and have a deep respect for story-telling, and the effect of educational audio.
Can you tell us a little bit about the Anis Foundation?
The Anis Foundation was founded to provide audio products with a moral and spiritual backbone. Stories and music that uplift the listener.
Working closely with institutions, communities, and individuals the foundation has produced three collections of stories. Recently these have been added to all major platforms including Apple Music and Spotify, and are being listened to around the world.
The Foundation is also open to being commissioned to create audio stories that are in line with its core values.
What inspired you to work with the Anis Foundation?
I’ve always loved listening to stories. I have a very early memory of listening to a Thundercats cassette on a Walkman. The combination of music and voice painted a very clear picture for me, it’s a feeling I don’t get from consuming other media.
This opportunity to produce audio stories started with a project to commemorate 100 years since the passing of Abdu’l-Baha. It was called Love Over Hate, and contained stories and songs for young listeners on that theme. I think the challenge of doing something so close to the heart (and my heart!) while maintaining a sense of reverence really attracted me to the project.
I also really enjoy the idea of creating audio that is not full of flash and drama, but rather packed with low key and sweet stories. It reminded me of listening to so many stories from older Bahaʼis as a child, often in very small settings. That feeling of “eye-to-eye” storytelling is what I try to recreate. Something very close and kind, rather than anything more theatrical.
Who is your main audience? What does the foundation produce?
So we produce collections of audio stories as well as music for young listeners. Since adding our products to major streaming platforms, we have gained thousands of listeners in more than 20 countries.
What was something you have learned in your work?
For a long time I thought that I could work on any project that had the core values of creativity and kindness; it’s very special to have this confirmed during my time with the Anis Foundation.
I’ve also learned that there are people and organisations that are keen to work on these kinds of projects, and I now find myself on the lookout for like minded collaborators. I understand now that going against the grain in an industry (as children’s entertainment is normally loud and intense), is completely fine and that it takes time to find an audience.
What are you working on?
It’s a project called “The Power of Kindness” and it’s a collection of stories about Abdu’l-Baha. We worked closely with the National Assembly of the United Kingdom’s Literature and Audio/Visual review boards in order to delve deep into some interesting memoirs and find stories that many people haven’t heard before.
The stories are told in a very calm voice with quiet music in the background. It’s a collection that raises many questions about kindness, and how it can shape the people and the world around us.
“The Power of Kindness” doesn’t really deliver the message of “kindness is good” but raises a lot of questions that children and young people often think about like, “How can I be kind when no one listens to me?”, or “Can I still be kind when I’m really busy?” Though the stories don’t give any clear answers, they gently approach these questions in a creative way, often turning to the listener for their thoughts.
There are a few preview stories from this collection available on our YouTube page.
How can people support the Foundation?
The Anis Foundation has been able to produce these audio stories thanks to the generous support of a few backers. A Patreon page was recently set up to allow others to support the foundation if they would like to.
You can also follow our blog about getting started with storytelling here: https://www.anis.org.uk/start-storytelling
Thank you, Daniel, for taking the time to share this with us!
You can find all of the Anis Foundations audio stories and social media links on our website: https://www.anis.org.uk
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