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VOA's New Documentary Tells Courageous Story of Young Girls' Escape from the Taliban

"Symphony of Courage"
"Symphony of Courage"

The Voice of America marks the first anniversary of the collapse of the government and the return of Taliban rule in Afghanistan with a new documentary revealing the escape and reconstitution of the Afghan National Institute of Music, the country’s only music school, and its acclaimed Zohra Orchestra, Afghanistan’s first all-female ensemble.

“Symphony of Courage” is told through the eyes of cousins Farida and Zohra Ahmadi, two teenagers who were the youngest and the last ANIM musicians to be evacuated from Kabul. ANIM became an instant target under the Taliban, who turned the school into military barracks and destroyed its instruments. An international team of philanthropists, politicians, and musicians, including renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma and U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, joined together to engineer the rescue.

In all, 273 ANIM students, faculty, and staff, evacuated Kabul and sheltered briefly in Doha, Qatar, before travelling on to Lisbon, Portugal, now their new home. Farida and Zohra Ahmad were the last to flee Kabul and the first to step onto Portuguese soil, where they can now perform their music in a free and open society.

“It was an honor to be given such access to film this group’s dangerous journey from Afghanistan to a new and welcoming homeland, where they can be together and make music again,” said the film’s director and executive producer, VOA documentarian Beth Mendelson. “The Voice of America will continue to cover these stories of human perseverance and triumph in the face of tragedy and unrelenting oppression.”

“VOA is deeply committed to telling the profound, untold stories of the Afghan people and their struggles under the Taliban and giving voice to their aspirations for freedom and dreams of a better life,” said Acting VOA Director Yolanda Lόpez. “This documentary about saving a unique institution of Afghan culture from violence and regime change does just that.”

“Symphony of Courage” will be available in more than 12 languages and accessible to audiences around the world via the internet, satellite, and VOA’s thousands of global affiliates.