During their first time in power (1996-2001) in Afghanistan, the Taliban were infamous worldwide for their treatment of women and their prohibition of music. Since the fall of Kabul on August 15, 2021, hundreds of musicians fear for their lives. Will their instruments be destroyed? Will they be killed, like folk singer Fawad Andarabi on August 31?

Encouraged by the first few years in which music was again legal in his country, Dr. Ahmad Sarmast founded Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) in 2010 as part of the Ministry of Education of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, with funding from the World Bank, German Embassy, and other institutions. CiH founder William Harvey taught violin at ANIM from 2010 to 2014. Inundated with messages after August 15, they agreed that Dr. Sarmast would focus on the evacuation of the ANIM community; he has now succeeded in evacuating just over 100 to Portugal. Meanwhile, William would assist other Afghan musicians: he now manages a chat group responsible for 326 non-ANIM musicians and their families.

For the short-term, the priority is the musicians’ safe exit from the country. For the long-term, CiH is working to arrange educational opportunities in the USA, Mexico, Italy, and Germany, and more. Among the partners: Proyecto Habesha, an organization with 7 years’ experience resettling Syrian refugees in Mexico; Vecchi-Tonelli Conservatory in Modena, Italy; Universität der Künste in Berlin, Germany; Nyack College and Indiana University in the USA. Your donation to CiH will support the exit from Afghanistan of musicians to the nearest available country, as well as some of the costs associated with long-term options ranging from educational opportunities to humanitarian parole to asylum.

History of CiH in Afghanistan

In 2010, CiH Founder William Harvey started teaching at ANIM; he would remain on faculty there for 4 years. In that same year, CiH sent pianist and oboist Allegra Boggess to Kabul for a two-week residency at ANIM; she would later serve on ANIM faculty from 2011 to 2016. In 2013, CiH helped bring violinist and conductor Joel Schut to ANIM for 7 weeks of teaching; his trip was underwritten with additional funding from the US Embassy in Kabul. Later in 2013, CiH brought cellist Theodore Harvey to ANIM for a week of teaching and a concert. Please note that ANIM is an initiative of Dr. Ahmad Sarmast and the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, not a project of CiH.