An international robotics competition held in Washington D.C. will be without a team of six teenage girls from Afghanistan.
The organizer of the team, Roya Mahboob, who founded software firm Citadel said the girls were "crying all day" once they discovered they were denied visas. The bad news for the girls is even worse when you consider what they had to do enter the competition — traveling 500 miles twice from their hometown in Herat to the U.S. embassy in Kabul to apply for a one week visa.
There are over 160 teams representing different nations and continents. The Afghanistan team page explains the girls' hopes for themselves and the future of their country.
We are the first robotic team with The Digital Citizen Fund (DCF) based in Herat, Afghanistan. DCF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created to empower youth and young women in developing countries to gain access to technology and obtain the necessary skills to succeed in today’s expanding global market...We want to develop and explore our minds and creativity and maybe unveil the genius inside of each one of us. This opportunity would allow us to invent, design, and create things that could possibly allow our community, our lives, and us.
A small silver lining is that the girls will still be able to enter their "ball-sorting contraption" into the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) challenge.
Trump administration denies visas to all-girl Afghan robotics team — but gladly accepts their robot https://t.co/DTuQUD7qJC
— Roya Mahboob (@RoyaMahboob) July 1, 2017
The first day of events will begin July 16th. The team said it still plans to be present via video.