The people who helped organize airlift of young musicians from Afghanistan to Portugal

Posted on: January 12, 2022

“On Dec. 13 … a community of school children from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) landed in Lisbon, Portugal,” writes Felix Carroll in Saturday’s (1/8) Berkshire Eagle (MA). “Lesley Friedman Rosenthal … was in Portugal to greet them. So was Jessica Lustig…. ‘It was remarkable to watch the young music students, their faculty and families come off the plane,’ said Rosenthal, president of the United States-based Friends of ANIM … ‘with a look on their faces I can only describe as hopefulness.’ Rosenthal and Lustig make up two-thirds of the board members of Friends of ANIM, the charitable group that… has supported the school … in Afghanistan’s capital…. The third member … is the school’s founder and director, Dr. Ahmad Naser Sarmast.… Rosenthal, who serves as chief operating officer of The Juilliard School, … and Lustig, the founder of a New York City-based publicity, advocacy and consulting business, engaged in round-the-clock efforts to assist Dr. Sarmast…. ‘The only way to salvage the school was to actually do a mass evacuation,’ … Rosenthal said…. When the school community landed in Portugal, … among the scant belongings salvaged from their homeland were … Western classical instruments, but also traditional Afghan instruments.”