Image Source: https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/
These days not much news comes out of Afghanistan that could be described as positive, but an all-girl high school team of legitimate geniuses, prove the South Asian country is so much more than just a war zone.
Their robotics team invented an inexpensive new ventilator model that will help the thousands of Covid-19 patients in their homeland, where there is a lack of such machines in hospitals.
In the city of Herat, the Afghan Robotics Team of 7 young girls finished the design of an open-source, mobile ventilator that costs as little as $700—compared to the $20,000 needed to purchase a traditional model. The lightweight machine can be powered by batteries that can run for ten hours.
They were among esteemed company, too, as their design was partially based on an MIT blueprint, and they received support and guidance from robotics experts at Harvard.
“We are delighted that we were able to take our first step in the field of medicine and to be able to serve the people in this area as well,” Somaya Faruqi, an 18-year old member of the robotics team, told Reuters. “All members of our team feel happy because after months of hard work, we were able to achieve this result.” (Watch the Reuters video below)
Afghanistan’s Minister of Health applauded the innovation and drive of the young girls, and eagerly awaited the devices’ approval from the World Health Organization.
“We appreciate the initiative and creativity in Afghanistan’s health sector…after they are approved, we will use these ventilators and we are determined to contract with companies so we can also export them,” he said.
A string of achievements
The Afghan Girls Robotics Team amassed international attention when in 2017, they traveled 500 miles from Herat to the capital of Kabul in order to secure visas for the First Global Challenge robotics competition in Washington, only to have them denied for no stated reason.
After public outcry caused the U.S. Department of State to reverse their decision, they claimed silver medals for their achievements in creating a machine that sorted dirty from clean water, even though a shipment of parts for their design was held up while entering the country.
After Washington, the team traveled to Europe and won the Entrepreneur Challenge at the International Robotex competition in Estonia, only months after the father of the team’s captain was killed in a suicide bombing.
“We are extremely proud of the wonderful accomplishments of the Afghan All-Girl Robotics Team,” Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Said T. Jawad, said in a statement at the time.
“They are an excellent example for people around the world of what can be accomplished by young Afghans if given the right support and the opportunity to excel in their education.”