The Zohra Orchestra is Afghanistan’s first all-female orchestra, formed in 2015 in Kabul by the Afghanistan National Institute of Music and its founder Dr Ahmad Sarmast, itself formed in 2008 with the goal of bringing a musical education to young Afghans in the wake of liberation from the Taliban, under whom women’s rights were severely curtailed. The orchestra performs traditional Afghan music, as well as Western classical music and Zohra’s musicians are the first women in their families, communities and country to study music in over 30 years. They come from provinces all across Afghanistan to live in Kabul and study at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, founded by Dr. Ahmad Sarmast. Among Zohra’s ranks are the country’s first female conductors, Negin Khpalwak and Zarifa Adiba.
Today, the members of Zohra and the Afghan National Institute of Music are suddenly in grave danger as the Taliban edges closer to taking complete control in Afghanistan once more. Women are targets, artists are targets, and these young musicians, sitting at the intersection of those two identities, desperately need our help. Per Dr. Sarmast, Zohra and ANIM urgent need $50,000.00 USD to input security measures at their school. As of earlier this week, these included an armed gate, boundary walls, and CCTV cameras, but as the situation evolves, the necessary measures may change.
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