Dr. Ahmad Naser Sarmast shifted the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) from Kabul to Lisbon, Portugal. The school currently has a flourishing music education program, which has recently visited by the famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Ma visited ANIM at its new location in Lisbon on March 29.
The Juilliard School will award Dr. Ahmad Naser Sarmast, the founding director of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM), an honorary doctorate on May 20. The honorary doctorate will be presented at Juilliard’s 117th commencement ceremony, during which Sarmast will be honored.
Sarmast, a 2018 Polar Prize winner, moved the entire school community from Taliban-controlled Kabul to Lisbon. Students, instructors, employees, and family members of the ANIM were not only given asylum but also offered to resettle and rebuild in Portugal following a series of evacuations. Sarmast and ANIM are committed to changing the lives of indigent children by educating both boys and girls in order to help them fulfill their artistic goals.
“It’s a great honour to receive this distinction from such an important institution as the Juilliard School of Music and Dance. I hope it will help focus international attention on ANIM’s efforts to ensure the future of Afghanistan’s rich but beleaguered musical heritage, and on the plight of those still living there, whose musical, educational and gender rights are currently being denied.” Dr. Sarmast expressed.
ANIM, Afghanistan’s first and only music school, established in 2010, giving Afghan boys and girls – many of whom were orphans who had to fend for themselves on the streets – the rare opportunity to learn in a coeducational environment and to study both Western and Afghan music while also receiving a general education. The ANIM community was compelled to flee to Doha, Qatar, as the Taliban occupation threatened girls’ secondary education and the practice of music itself. It arrived in Lisbon in mid-December 2021.