The Afghan Girls Robotics Team was saved by the unlikeliest of heroes. An Oklahoma mother of 11 flew to Afghanistan earlier this month to rescue ten of its members.
Allyson Reneau, a 60-year old Harvard graduate with a Masters degree in international relations and US space policy, took it upon herself to try and save more members of the Afghan Girls Robotic Team as the Taliban took power in Kabul, reported New York Post.
They begged Canada’s federal government for help. They were "extremely terrified" and tried to connect with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who held a photo op with them in 2018.
"If this government (the Taliban) wants to be legitimate, they can do things in real-time to demonstrate to the world that women will have their rights equal to that of men," said prominent human rights lawyer Kimberley Motley, who previously appealed to Trudeau to help the girls seek refuge in Canada.
The girls wanted to come to Canada because their trip to the country in 2018, when they met Trudeau, was "life-changing," said Motley.
Reneau has been in contact with the team of girls aged 16 to 18 since 2019 as a board of directors for Explore Mars. There she met the girls when they attended the organization’s annual Humans to Mars conference.
Before the US mandate in Afghanistan two decades ago, the Taliban curtailed freedoms for women. They could not enter public places without a male from their household.
The team thrived since the US held a presence in their country. They competed in multiple competitions worldwide and made headlines for their life-saving mission to build a ventilator from used car parts.
However, all of their accomplishments and freedoms were at risk as the Taliban reportedly went door-to-door and took young girls as sex slaves.
The first step Reneau took was to call Sen. Jim Inhofe [R-Okla.], a ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, but that “lead went cold” when the senator became "overwhelmed with the need to help our American citizens," said Reneau.
Then she took matters into her own hands and headed to Qatar. Reneau flew into the gulf state on August 9 after a call to a former roommate at the US Embassy.
"I remembered [that] my former roommate in DC a couple of years ago was transferred to Qatar," said Reneau. Her friend in Qatar was thankfully able to help her once she arrived.
"She wrote up a request, and I got all of their passports together," said Reneau. "She went back to the Embassy at midnight and worked all night to prepare the documents [and] packets for the girls."
Reneau said it was chaotic trying to get the girls out, who "was in a sea of chaos with 8 million people and a city halfway around the world," forcing her to work at the embassy all night.
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