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 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 U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan, DCF, fearing instability, requested that Qatar provide study-abroad opportunities for the team to ensure that students could continue their education in Doha. The Qatar government expedited visas for team members in Afghanistan and their teachers to travel to Doha. The Qatar Foundation and Qatar Fund for Development granted them scholarships to enroll in world-class universities in Education City. Some of their teammates remain in Afghanistan, Europe, and the UAE. In August 2022, the Qatar Foundation and Qatar Fund for Development awarded another round of scholarships to tex new members of the Afghan Dreamers, enabling them to continue their education in Qatar.
Despite numerous challenges, the team has continued to compete in international robotics competitions and advocate for women's and girl's educational access on the global stage. Members of the group and DCF leadership have won numerous awards, including the F1RST Global Competition Awards (2021,2023), the 2022 Doha Forum Award (awarded to Roya Mahboob, DCF Executive Director), U.N.'s Education Cannot Wait Global Champion (awarded to former team captain Somaya Faruqi). Notable press accolades featuring the team include Forbes' "30 Under 30 of Asia Awards" and Teen Vogue's "21 Under 21 2021" as exemplars of "The Young People Shaping Tomorrow." Alums who evacuated to Doha in the summer of 2021 have been accepted into universities worldwide, serving as a powerful example to girls everywhere.
- 2017 Benefiting Humanity in AI award at World Summit AI
- 2017 Courageous Achievement - FIRST Global, Washington DC
- 2017 Entrepreneur Challenge Award, Robotex Festival, Estonia
- 2018 Permission to Dream Award - Raw Film Festival
- 2018 Conrad Innovation Challenge - Raw Film Festival
- 2018 Rookie All Start - District Championship, Canada
- 2019 Inspiring in Engineering - FIRST Detroit World Championship
- 2018 Asia Game Changer of California
- 2019 Asia Game Changer of California
- 2019 Safety Award - FIRST Global, Dubai
- 2021 Judges Award - FIRST Global, Virtual
- 2023 Courageous Achievement, FIRST Global, Singapore