By John Domingue
You may have seen him walking down Main Street, a scarf around his neck, his long curly brown hair flowing from under his Paqol, an unassuming yet peaceful gait as he makes his way down the sidewalk. His name is Lanny Cordola, an Old Town fixture.
Lanny is the founder of The Miraculous Love Kids/Girl With A Guitar program, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization based in Kabul, Afghanistan.
A guitar school for war torn children, in a country rated as the worst place in the world to be a child. I know, right. How did that happen?
This is the story of “A man with a ridiculous dream.”
Lanny is a professional rock-n- roller who has played and toured with some of the biggest names in the business for decades.
In 2010, Lanny was touring Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq collaborating with musicians on a “Peace through Music” project. After meeting many kids in the region living in poverty and conflict zones Lanny decided to raise funds on their behalf based on the premise “It shouldn’t hurt to be a kid”
On September 8, 2012, sisters Parwana and Korshid were killed by a suicide bomber in Kabul, Afghanistan. The intended target was U.S. military forces. According to the troops who were there, the sisters sacrificed their own lives to save them.
Lanny met with the sisters’ family, including their younger sibling Mursal, who survived the attack. When Mursal saw the guitar that constantly accompanies Lanny, she brightened up and asked if he would teach her to play so she could honor her sisters and other girls living in similar conditions. With that, “The Miraculous Love Kids/Girl with a Guitar” was born.
In February 2016, Lanny moved to Kabul where he and Mursal presently teach guitar, English and other life skills to children, mostly girls at their Miraculous Love Kids Studio.
Today The Miraculous Love Kids/ Girl With a Guitar program is over 200 students strong. All students have lost loved ones to bombings.
Called by the children “Guitar Father.” Lanny has developed a program bigger than music alone. A program that educates, empowers and heals through music.
When Lanny had mentioned to me about his vision and his impending move to Afghanistan my first response was “that’s ridiculous”. I thought,really? After long discussions I decided, if Lanny was this committed, then I’m in. After all, he is a man with a ridiculous dream.
Now 6-and-a-half years later I can truly say, perhaps it’s the best and most rewarding decision I’ve ever made.
Children are knocking on the door with the desire to belong. The entire program is supported by donations and volunteers; 100% of all donations go directly to the kids. The program has relocated families, placed over 60 children in private school and supports numerous families with everyday expenses, basic medical, food and education.
Imagine being a young kid in Afghanistan, 12 years old, just learning the guitar and your first recording is with rock ‘n’ roll legend Brian Wilson, covering his iconic hit “Love and Mercy.” Yes, Lanny was recruiting his buddies from the music industry to record with the girls and use the music videos to raise awareness and fundraising.
In the midst of a chaotic war torn city Lanny and the girls are faced with many everyday challenges, many are life and death. With western troops pulling out of Afghanistan the challenges are mounting. However, Lanny has not waivered in fulfilling his dream and his dedication to the children of Kabul.
In the middle of the madness the girls released a second music video, covering the hit by the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams.” Featuring Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello along with numerous rock legends from The Bangles, The Go Go’s, The Runaways and The Foo Fighters. This video was critically acclaimed and covered worldwide.
Then, on May 18, the girls’ newest recording was premiered on ABCs GMA3 alongside rock Hall of Fame legend Sammy Hagar covering Steve Millers “Fly Like an Eagle.” Actor Kiefer Sutherland made his inaugural appearance as ambassador for The Miraculous Love Kids along with Lanny and three top students.
This is one man’s ridiculous dream come true. In the words of Lanny Cordola “and on we go”. For my part, I’ve learned as much from these courageous kids as they have learned from us. They are my heroes.
Jazz great Charlie Hayden said “In the hands of children music can save the world.” … And on we go!
If you would like to make a donation or volunteer, visit www.miraculouslovekids.org