Negin Khpalwak surrounded by tall trees and even taller mountains, Negin Khpalwak spent much of her childhood playing with her siblings and other village children in rural Kunar. Every evening, she watched colorful birds fly above her,carrying nature’s melodies from one place to another.
At the age of nine, Negin moved to Kabul so she could continue her education. In 2010, she was in the sixth grade when she enrolled in the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) where she learned to play the Surood. Soon she was performing at cultural events. Her face and name appeared on national television, sending a shockwave through her conservative rural community.
When she visited home for the holidays, she faced jeers and insults. On one occasion, her uncles prevented her from returning to ANIM. For six months, Negin was housebound. When she returned to ANIM with her father’s support, Negin decided to pursue the piano and conducting. She began by conducting the group of young women she practiced with. After some time, they wanted to officially announce themselves as an orchestra and with help from Dr. Ahmad Sarmast, the Founder and Director of ANIM, they picked the name “Zohra Orchestra.”
Since then, Zohra has performed on national and global stages, including at the World Economic Forum in Davos, but Negin’s journey has just begun.
I want to perform around the world and show everyone that Afghanistan is not just war and Taliban.”
Negin remembers that in her childhood she often played near beautiful blossoming trees that sprouted out of giant rocks. Today, she has become one.