Image credit: Digital Citizen Fund
I've been following this story from the beginning. It's moved so fast. But, I think they are safe now... Here's the story.
Following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and subsequent Taliban takeover, several groups within the country began looked to flee, seeking safety and refuge. Among them, a famed Afghan all-girls robotics team, several of whom have been able to arrive safely in Qatar. All aged sixteen to eighteen, the priority for the safe members is now obtaining scholarship funds to continue their education, according to the team’s parent organization, the Digital Citizen Fund.
Dubbed the Afghan Dreamers, the original six members of the team first came to global attention in 2017, when they attended an international robotics competition in Washington, D.C. The road they took to even attend the competition was difficult: two 500-mile journeys from their homes in Harat to an embassy in Kabul, where they were twice denied visas, and the confiscation of their robotics kit by the Afghan government a few months before the competition. Eventually, rather than being granted visas, they were given a 10-day “parole” to enter the U.S.
Since 2017, the team has grown to some dozen girls and accomplished much more, including attending a Humans to Mars summit in 2019 and working to build a low-cost ventilator made of car parts during the pandemic. Though at least a dozen landed safely in Qatar, advocates for the girls have not confirmed details about the evacuation for safety reasons. Allyson Reneau, an Oklahoma woman who met the team at the 2019 summit, was one advocate who assisted in the evacuation, contacting a friend at the embassy in Qatar to start the process of getting them out of Kabul.
Reneau, who is in contact with the girls, has confirmed that they seem to be safe, well, and happy and are hopeful for their future. She says that while they are still figuring out where they will go from Qatar, team members have received scholarship offers from universities in the U.S. Elizabeth Schaeffer Brown, an advisor with the Digital Citizen Fund, has also emphasized scholarship money and continued education as the immediate priority. Brown emphasizes that the group wants to continue to build the future of their country, that they are the future. It was their hard work that rescued them, and now they need the resources to decide their own next steps.
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