Saturday, July 1, 2017


The all-girl team representing Afghanistan [in the international robotics competition happening in Washington DC] hails from Herat, a city of half a million people in the western part of the country. To interview for their visas, the girls risked a 500 mile trek cross-country to the American embassy in Kabul – the site of several recent suicide attacks and one deadly truck bomb in early June that killed at least 90 people. Despite the recent violence, the teenagers braved the trip to the country's capital not once, but twice, hoping a second round of interviews might help secure their 7-day visas after the team was rejected on its first try. But no luck.


Other teams from Iraq, Iran and Sudan were all able to secure their travel visas for the competition – and roughly 95% of FIRST global teams will be able to attend. Only team Afghanistan and team Gambia have been denied visas so far.


The six haven't had much time to put this contraption together: their raw materials were held up in customs for months this spring, amid fears over ISIS' use of robots on the battlefield. But instead of giving up, the girls took matters into their own hands, and designed their own homemade motorized robotic machines while they waited for customs to clear their parts.

The robot gets to come.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

UPDATE: 7/4...

Gambian teenagers have also been denied visas for the robotics event.

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