When an all-girl robotics team from Afghanistan learned the devastating news they would not be allowed entry into the US for an international competition, the young women were left “crying all the day”.
The team of six teenagers were hoping to compete in Washington DC for the First Global Challenge, a contest for high school students from around the world, The Independent reports.
They had traveled over 800km—twice—from Herat to the American embassy in Kabul to apply for visas. The location had even been targeted by a truck bomb. And yet the girls persisted.
But their inspirational efforts were shut down after interviews when their one-week visas were rejected. Heartbreakingly, their ball-sorting robot has been allowed entry into the US to compete without them.
"The first time (they were rejected) it was very difficult talking with the students," Afghanistan's first female tech boss, Roya Mahboob, told Mashable. "They're young and they were very upset."
Fourteen-year-old Fatemah told Forbes, "We want to show the world we can do it; we just need a chance."
On their competition page, the girls wrote: "We want to make a difference, and most breakthroughs in science, technology, and other industries normally start with the dream of a child to do something great. We want to be that child and pursue our dreams to make a difference in peoples' lives."
First Global President Joe Sestak added that it was a disappointment that the “extraordinarily brave young women” from Afghanistan were unable to compete.
"I wanted this to happen badly, I really did," he said. "These girls are courageous."