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Symphony of Courage

January 22, 2023

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Symphony of Courage from filmmaker Beth Mendelson shines a light on Portugal as a safe haven once again for fleeing refugees. It tells the story of the evacuation of the students of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) following the Taliban takeover, after music was outlawed. ANIM’s director Dr. Ahmad Sarmast worked with an international team of philanthropists, politicians, and musicians to facilitate their rescue to Lisbon — their new home, where they can play music once again in a free and open society.



⇒ January 20-23, watch Beth Mendelson‘s film Symphony of Courage on your home device. A link will be provided to all who register.

⇒ Sunday, January 22 at 4:00 p.m. US Eastern Time, tune into the program with our distinguished panel of guests. A link will be provided to all who register.




Screen Shot 2022-11-24 at 11.07.15 AMDr. Ahmad Sarmast is founder and director of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM). He fled his country in the 1990’s, when music was forbidden under Taliban rule. Following the nation’s liberation from Taliban rule in 2001, Sarmast returned to Kabul to establish ANIM, providing music education to students regardless of gender, ethnicity, or social backgrounds. When the Taliban retook power in August of 2021, Sarmast worked with an international coalition to rescue the 273 members of the school and re-establish it in Lisbon, Portugal. The target of three assassination attempts, Dr. Sarmast was grievously injured in a suicide bombing at a peace concert of an ANIM ensemble in Kabul in 2014.

Screen Shot 2022-11-24 at 11.38.49 AMBeth Mendelson (left) is the Senior Executive Producer of Special Programming and Documentaries at Voice of America. Previously, she was the Chief of the Afghanistan Service for six years, overseeing television, radio, and web programming. She supervised a staff of 100 people between Washington, D.C. and Afghanistan. Beth Mendelson’s communication career spans 30 years across the U.S. Government. She has been an Executive Producer for major American and European networks, including PBS, CNN, ITN, ARD, and MSNBC. Her work producing documentaries and television specials has taken her to Russia, China, France, England, and numerous other countries.

Mariana (1)

Mariana Abrantes (right), who will moderate the panel, is the Board Treasurer of the Sousa Mendes Foundation. Coming from a village in central Portugal, she studied Economics at UC-Berkeley and earned an MA from Princeton University. After training and working in Chase Manhattan Bank, she returned to Portugal, where she worked at the European Investment Bank. She also served in the Portuguese government’s Ministries of Transport and Health, and on the Boards of international investment funds and the Fulbright Commission Portugal.  She is a dual Portuguese-US citizen.


Registration for this program will open at a later date.


January 22, 2023
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