The Afghan Girls Robotics Team was recently rescued from Kabul and have been taken to Doha, Qatar, with the help of Allyson Reneau from Oklahoma.
The Afghan Girls Robotics Team was given safe passage from Kabul to Doha just as it was taken over by the Taliban. Allyson Reneau, from Oklahoma, played an instrumental role in getting the girls to safety. Reneau had first met the team in 2019 when they attended the Human to Mars conference. The 60-year-old had kept in touch with the girls after the conference as well after being impressed by their love for engineering and robotics. "Several members of the girls' Afghan robotics team have safely arrived in Doha, Qatar, from Kabul, Afghanistan," the Digital Citizen Fund (DCF) and Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
As reports of a Taliban takeover grew, Allyson Reneau had an overwhelming feeling the girls robotics team might be in danger. On Aug. 9, she decided to fly to Qatar herself. https://t.co/rCKlullJYC— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 19, 2021
"The flight out of Kabul was only at the very end of a journey in which safety was always a concern," Elizabeth Schaeffer Brown, a board member on the DCF said. "Ultimately the girls 'rescued' themselves. If it were not for their hard work and courage to pursue an education, which brought them in contact with the world, they would still be trapped. We need to continue to support them and others like them." Brown added, "We appreciate this and hope it translates to a long-term commitment to girls' education. This is the most effective way to guarantee their safety and a better future for everyone." The girls will now have to decide whether they will remain in Qatar to continue their education or move elsewhere.
The all-girls robotics team rescued from Afghanistan have been offered scholarships at 'incredible universities,' says Oklahoma mother who helped them escape the Taliban https://t.co/zexWcRE05m— Insider News (@InsiderNews) August 22, 2021
Something that will help make their decision easier, is that the girls are being offered an "abundance of scholarships" from several universities across many countries including the US. Reneau declined to disclose the specifics but told BBC about these offers. "It will be important for them to continue their education," she said. The team that includes girls aged 15 to 19, first made headlines in 2017 after winning a special award at an international robotics competition in the US. At first, they were denied a visa to participate in the competition that included teams from more than 160 countries. But after public outrage, then-president Donald Trump intervened.
Amid the Taliban's takeover, members of a famed Afghan all-girls’ robotics team left the country. https://t.co/8P6PL8wGX7— HuffPost (@HuffPost) August 19, 2021
"For the first time in their life, I really believe they have the freedom to choose and to be the architects of their own destiny and their own future," Reneau added as per Business Insider. "It's the freeing feeling to me to know that they will be able to go somewhere and get educated wherever they want." The team is also referred to as the "Afghan Dreamers" and were on everyone's mind when news of the Taliban taking over Afghanistan first broke. There are more than 20 members on the team, some of whom are still left behind in the western city of Herat.
1. An all-girls robotics team in Afghanistan, known as the Afghan Dreamers, are desperately fighting to flee the Taliban-controlled nation.— BFM News (@NewsBFM) August 19, 2021
The 20-member team, comprised of girls aged 12-18, previously made headlines for building low-cost ventilators to treat Covid-19 patients. https://t.co/spf8cRJbzI pic.twitter.com/Y6AhE0Sl7W
Kimberly Motley, a U.S. lawyer who has represented them for years, says she's in close touch with the girls and their families. She refused to publicly discuss details because she fears for the safety of those still inside Afghanistan. "We're hopeful that they're safe. But we're really concerned with the reports that we're seeing," Motley told NPR. Motley has expressed her disappointment in the way President Joe Biden has handled the situation. "We went there and we sold them this dream of democracy and freedom. Because of that, there were millions and millions of little girls that were educated," said Motley. "But now we're leaving and everyone knew that this day would come."
The Taliban have been trying to reassure women that things will be different this time. In a press conference, Tali spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said, “We assure that there will be no violence against women. No prejudice against women will be allowed, but the Islamic values are our framework.” The Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001 was a dark period for Afghan women, which is what is being expected this time around as well. Despite their assurances, women are being fired from their jobs and asked to stay at home by the Taliban.