The struggle of an American music teacher to save his Afghan students: NPR

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Lanny Cordola is a guitarist who ran a school in Kabul designed to teach music to children in war-torn areas. He is now trying to get his students out of Afghanistan.



MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Like anyone with loved ones still in Afghanistan, it has been a trying week for Lanny Cordola. He’s a guitarist from LA. He performed with Guns N ‘Roses and The Beach Boys. We first met him in 2017 when he told us about the most unlikely school he was running – the Miraculous Love Kids Music School in Kabul. The association teaches young children, especially young women, in war-torn areas, to play the guitar.

(EXTRACT FROM THE ARCHIVED RECORD)

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) I was standing in a muddy field, looking at the people there.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Fast forward to August 2021 and the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. Cordola left the country on the last commercial flight and headed to Islamabad, Pakistan, and immediately started using the phones. He’s trying to get his former students out of Afghanistan.

KELLY: There are a lot, but a dozen or so have become the face of the school, playing western music that has been shared on YouTube. And that makes them vulnerable. So Cordola tried to get them out first.

LANNY CORDOLA: So I filled out every P-2, SIV – you know, this, that, or the other.

KELLY: Cordola says he’s received offers from all kinds of organizations to help him. So far nothing has happened. He says two different rescue missions failed last night.

CORDOLA: When a western security company tells you, we’ll be there in 10 minutes, bring your kids back, we’re ready to go, and they don’t show up at all, then they spend the night there because they have called back and said, oh, we’ll do it tomorrow morning – you know, that’s what so many Afghans are doing.

CORNISH: The mission didn’t show up in the morning, so the girls are waiting for August 31st to approach. To underline the danger the girls face, an explosion rocked the building that housed the school yesterday. But despite the chaos, Cordola is optimistic that at least these dozen most vulnerable girls will come out before the deadline.

CORDOLA: I mean, these are the lucky ones. You know what I mean? They got me. They have a berserk who is their lawyer. And there were so many – and most of them were Americans – who donated and showed such goodwill. And I’m just humbled to the core. So these girls, it’s gonna be fine. But, you know, I’m greedy, man; I want to get out of it as much as possible.

CORNISH: As much as he can – and Lanny Cordola is still working on the phone, trying to make it happen.

(EXCERPT FROM THE SONG MIRACULOUS LOVE KIDS, “FLY LIKE AN EAGLE”)

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