When the news that the Afghanistan’s girls’ robotics tem had won a place to take part in an international robotics competition came, it was met with unbelief. Afghanistan, a nation that has become synonymous with lawlessness, drug cultivation and extremism was not expected to have a robotics team, let alone a girls’ robotics team that can successfully compete in international competitions.
But here it was. While there were many complications in gaining US visa for the young teenage scientists from Afghanistan, they were finally granted visa and the girls finally went to the US to take part in the robotics competition.
But alas, the girl, 14-year old Fatemah Qaderyan, who led the young robotics expert to the US, has suffered the worst tragedy of her life. Her father, who was reportedly grievously injured in an ISIS terrorist attack in a Heart mosque, has died, leaving the 14-year old girl orphaned.
In an interview, while in Washington, where the competition was held, the girl had described her father as her biggest strength.
The girl is simply devastated. “[Fatemah] is very angry and is not eating or speaking to anyone, she is going through a very difficult time,” the coach told Al Jazeera.
During the just concluded FIRST Global Challenge competition, the team won a silver medal for “courageous achievement.” The award recognized teams that exhibited a “can-do” attitude even under difficult circumstances or when things did not go as planned. A suicide bomber stormed into the largest Shiite Muslim mosque in Afghanistan’s Herat province Tuesday night, opening fire on worshippers before blowing himself up, killing at least 29 and wounding dozens more.
Before leaving for Washington, the girl in in interview, told Aljazeera, “Afghanistan is a country at war and doesn’t have a lot of resources at hand. Other countries should consider this; they shouldn’t be so strict with us”.