- (2020 Grant recipients of Pulitzer Center)
Afraz and Erfan live in the city of Rasht in the province of Gilan, in the north of Iran. Before they met, each had been playing music on his own. Then, in 2016, a mutual friend introduced them to each other. Considering that both were musicians, their friendship soon flourished, and forming a strong bond, they decided to create a band and give street performances to earn a wage. Since the coronavirus outbreak, these two have been in quarantine as many other Iranians have, and as a result, they now face financial hardship. A few weeks into the pandemic, they decided to start performing again as their funds and savings drained out. They had no choice but to risk their lives and go to the streets to make money. Playing instruments while following safety protocols is exceedingly difficult. Even though having fewer people on the street minimizes their risk of infection, the musicians’ daily earnings have been gutted.
Moreover, considering that they live in an Islamic country, morality police officers have caused them endless trouble ever since they began playing. They have been arrested several times, and have had their instruments confiscated each time. However, they have never given up playing music, no matter how hard it is in an Islamic country. Indeed, it is their only way to make money. Afraz and Erfan are highly celebrated in the city. In addition to their street performances, they have also been playing as surprise guests at birthday parties in return for small sums of money.