I was born Natasha Saminaden and raised in North London by my parents who became Bahá’ís independently of each other, and before leaving the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.
My parents’ desire to share Bahá’u’lláh’s unifying and transformative message was given expression through many years of pioneering and travel teaching trips. This example gave rise to my own excitement from a very early age to play my part. I would happily skip into school with colorful Baha’i posters of diverse children holding hands and would gleefully share songs in school assemblies such as ‘We are drops’ and ‘God is One.’ I loved Bahá’u’lláh and His unifying message deeply as a child as He allowed me to joyfully bond with others with great ease.
From an early age I studied classical piano at the Royal College of Music (Junior College). At university, I received a Joint Honors Bachelor of Arts degree in English and French Literature with further studies in Media and Psychology.
In my early 20’s I married an English Bahá’í (Andrew) whose pioneering spirit and creative approach to the building of community matched my own. We left England to meet the last remaining UK goal of the 6 year Plan and pioneered to the Seychelles. During our time in the Seychelles, I worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Environment as their Head of Information and Education, where I liaised with the Ministry of Education to develop a curriculum for students from primary school through to A levels. Using mixed media, nationwide educational campaigns, and collaboration with environmental impact assessment inspectors for the flora and fauna and marine life of the region, the curriculum looked to implement areas of Agenda 21 from the United Nations Conference on Environment & Development in Rio de Janeiro. This was part of a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System and Governments, in every area in which humans impact the environment. It was in this arena and at this point in our lives that I first learnt the fundamental requirement of a humble posture of learning to effect change and open hearts.
Upon our return to England in 1995, I was invited to join the Bahá’í Arts Academy Team. The Academy was an annual event that provided a creative environment with diverse courses that were empowering, challenging and designed to enable all participants to harness the transformative power of the arts to affect individuals spiritually, educationally, and artistically. My 10 years with the Academy allowed me to begin the exploration of the role of Revelation, faith and the arts, and their application at the grassroots of building community. Our children Yasmin, Arran, and Yasmin’s husband, Jordan, continue to develop creative ways to build fundamental and meaningful unity through the power of the creative Word of God and the arts.
I have always been fascinated by the perceived singularity of Revelation, faith and action, and the contrasting and undeniable necessity, to draw upon each in the building of community, society and civilization – and crucially, when harnessing the tools and methods of a framework that are born of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation, the Covenant and the Divine Plan upon which each of the Global Plans drawn up by the Universal House of Justice are rooted. I have repeatedly had to test the interplay of these different elements and harness a more sophisticated approach to that of my childhood years. Having moved from our home of 20 years to a quaint English village in the Midlands, I have had to immerse myself more deeply in the process of learning about the dynamics, motivations, qualities and attributes required for establishing veritable and enduring friendships that both build community and are outward facing.
Having now served, as the Coordinator of the Bahá’í Literature Review, Secretary of the training institute board for the UK and as Secretary and member of the Bahá’í Council for England for almost ten years, I have witnessed a depth of unity, love, joy, devotion, and obedience to the Covenant that binds individuals, institutions and communities so profoundly. I am convinced that this bond must be born of a force and awakening that indelibly intertwines our material and spiritual journeys and rises above the challenges and features of mere cultural influence and the ‘temporal and material apparatus of civilization’.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization