THE AFGHAN GIRLS ROBOTICS TEAM
The Afghan Girls Robotics Team evolved out of a DCF STEM program with an enrollment of 7 students in January of 2017. The girls made headlines in 2017 after being denied visas to participate in a robotics competition in Washington D.C. Eventually, former President Donald Trump intervened and the team was granted entry into the United States for the competition. They went on to win several prestigious international robotics awards. Many of the initial members have since graduated and are continuing their studies. Successive enrollments have built on their example and demonstrate growing confidence and technical proficiency. Recent members have also applied their skills to address immediate needs in Afghanistan, such as developing a low-cost ventilator derived from widely-available used car parts at the height of a regional COVID outbreak. The teams have become known internationally as the “Afghan Dreamers.”
In August of 2021, when the US withdrew from Afghanistan, DCF, fearing instability, requested that Qatar provide study abroad opportunities for the team to assure that students could continue their education in Doha. The Qatar government and Qatar Foundation organization were able to expedite visas. Nine team members, and their teacher, traveled to Doha. The team was granted scholarships by the Qatar Foundation and Qatar Fund for Development to enroll in the world-class universities based in Education City. Some of their teammates remain in Afghanistan, Europe, and the UAE.
Despite these challenges, the team has remained active. The team won the 2021 F1RST Global Competition Judges Award. Team Captain, Somaya Faruqi, spoke at the United Nations to recognize Women’s International Day. Additionally, the team was selected as UNICEF "Hidden Heroes”. Finally, the international press has reported extensively on their remarkable story. Forbes recognized the team as part of their “30 Under 30 of Asia Awards”. Teen Vogue's “21 Under 21 2021” identified the team as an example of "The Young People Shaping Tomorrow.” This is a small sample of the awards, press, and events the team has garnered last year.
Currently, DCF is building support for an institutional model, informed by the team’s success, potentially for all girls in Afghanistan. The DCF and The Dreamer Institute are working on developing a ‘public-private partnership' with the Central Partnership Authority of Afghanistan, with the intent to create a STEAM high school and university. The Dreamer Institute at Kabul University will provide a world-class education to Afghan students, emphasizing women’s access to resources in STEAM fields.
• Afghan Dreamers Team received an award in Humanity in AI by Inspire Mind in World Summit AI
• Afghan Dreamers Team won the second model for their courage achievement in First Global in Washington, DC.
• Afghan Dreamers Team received an award in Permission to Dream in Raw Film Festival
• Afghan Dreamers Team won the Conrad innovation challenge in Raw Film Festival
• Afghan Robotics Team won the Rookie All Start in District Championship in Canada
• Afghan Dreamers Team won inspiring in Engineering award in FIRST Detroit World Championship
• Afghan Dreamers Team won the Asia Game Changer 2018
• Afghan Dreamers Team won the Asia Game Changer of California 2019
• Afghan Dreamers Team won the Safety award in FIRST Global in Dubai 2019