FEBRUARY 28, 2023 (ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN) – The fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban on August 15, 2021, continues to resonate and claim new victims. At the end of 2022, the group banned women from working in local and foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs). No one can say how much worse the oppression against women and girls in the country will get, but it doesn’t look good.
For members of THE MIRACULOUS LOVE KIDS — a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that served as Afghanistan’s only school of music for war-torn, poverty-stricken girls and young women until August 15, 2021 — the arrival of the Taliban changed everything. The guitar lessons, the recordings, the videos, and the hope for a better life — all gone in a flash. Their instruments destroyed, their dreams shattered, these post-9/11 children had never experienced the harsh rule of the Taliban in their lifetime. It was a disruption like no other.
LANNY CORDOLA, the group’s American founder and director, managed to catch the last commercial flight out of Kabul not knowing what was in store as he had already booked the fare to Pakistan to renew his visa before the Taliban moved in. He immediately went right to work, relentlessly chasing every possibility he could to get his students and their families out of Afghanistan.
After nine months of dealing with rescue agencies, special operation teams, self-styled mercenaries, layers of bureaucracy and tons of red tape, Cordola was able to provide safe passage for his girls and their families out of Afghanistan and into Pakistan. It was a perilous journey from Kabul to Islamabad.
Like its neighbor, Pakistan is in the grips of social unrest, political upheaval, and economic instability. There’s also widespread discrimination against Afghan refugees, who are routinely harassed and made to feel unwelcome. While they’ve been able to resume their musical endeavors to a certain extent and avoid the rule of the Taliban, THE MIRACULOUS LOVE KIDS are still refugees who need a place to settle down and call home. In their quest for freedom, prosperity, and happiness, they won’t back down. And neither will Cordola and the group’s numerous supporters.
To show their commitment and underscore how far they’ve come, THE MIRACULOUS LOVE KIDS have recorded a version of TOM PETTY’s “I WON’T BACK DOWN.” Joining the MLKs is country superstar BLAKE SHELTON, along with three members of the distinguished ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME: guitarist JOE WALSH and bassist TIMOTHY B. SCHMIT of THE EAGLES, plus drummer MATT SORUM of GUNS N’ ROSES and VELVET REVOLVER.
“When I was working to get the girls out of Afghanistan, ‘I WON’T BACK DOWN’ became our anthem to never give up no matter what the circumstances or odds in our pursuit of freedom, justice, equality, and peace,” Cordola recalls. “It’s not only for the girls and women of Afghanistan but for all oppressed people of the world. As Tom Petty so powerfully wrote, ‘You can stand me up at the gates of hell but I won’t back down…'”
Joe Walsh shares: “May music always bring you girls the inspiration and connection to a higher power that delivers you strength and joy. I’m grateful to have shared this moment with you all. Peace and love.” “Congrats on the wonderful work you are doing for these girls,” Marjorie Bach, Walsh’s wife, adds. “Service to others is the key to a blessed life.”
Timothy B. Schmit recognizes the power of music in bringing hope to those in despair: “Lanny is a saint for being a part of these girls’ lives by helping them move forward through music. Even after all they’ve experienced in their young lives, you can see and feel their beautiful life forces shining through.”
Echoing the sentiment, Matt Sorum sees how the experience of making music is a healing force for the MLKs. “I’m so proud of my longtime friend Lanny as he has shared the gift of music with these wonderful young girls that have been through so much,” he says. “The joy they feel playing music gives them much needed hope to persevere. They are an inspiration to us all. Please help them with their endeavors to relocate and spread their message of peace and love around the world.”
For Lanny Cordola & The Miraculous Love Kids, the continued support for their journey to freedom helps in keeping them motivated to move forward. “The girls and I are honored to have Blake, Joe, Timothy and Matt join us in spreading this message far and wide,” Cordola says. “Hopefully their involvement will bring more awareness about Afghan refugees like the girls and their quest for a better life.”