The Washington Post is reporting that an all-girl robotics team made up of high-school-age girls just arrived in Doha, Qatar after escaping from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. For security reasons, they are not discussing the details of their journey.

At least a dozen of the girls from the team have fled the nation, the majority arriving in the capital city of Doha on Tuesday, according to Elizabeth Schaeffer Brown, an adviser with the New York-based Digital Citizen Fund, the team’s parent organization. Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed their arrival in a statement.

An Afghan technology entrepreneur named Roya Mahboob founded the sponsoring organization and mentored the team. She began making plans to evacuate the girls over a week ago by working with the Qatari government to plan the escape, expedite visas, and provide transportation. The US government was apparently not involved in the extraction.

In 2017, an earlier incarnation of the robotics team participated in an international competition in Washington, DC, beating long odds just to get out of Afghanistan and make it to the US. 

The current team is made up of girls ages 13-18, who have never known life under Taliban rule. The girls were all born and raised in a more open and egalitarian era in Afghanistan. Brown told the Post:

“They want to go to Mars, go to Harvard, become engineers, make a mining robot, make video games.”

It seems likely that none of those things could have happened if they had remained in Afghanistan.

“If it wasn’t for their hard work and dedication to their education, the world wouldn’t know them and they’d still be trapped,” Brown said. “The girls rescued themselves. It was their bravery that got them out.”

Sunday, Aug 22, 2021 · 5:23:13 AM +00:00 · liberaldad2

Mea culpa — contrary to my initial assumption, the Afghan engineer Roya Mahboob who organized and mentored the robotics team and helped them escape is a woman. I have corrected the pronoun in the story to reflect that. My sincere apologies to all the women of the world for making this common but offensive mistake.

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