VENTILATOR FROM OLD CAR PARTS? AFGHAN GIRLS PURSUE PROTOTYPE
Techlife News|April 25, 2020
On most mornings, Somaya Farooqi and four other teenage girls pile into her dad’s car and head to a mechanic’s workshop. They use back roads to skirt police checkpoints set up to enforce a lockdown in their city of Herat, one of Afghanistan’s hot spots of the coronavirus pandemic.

The members of Afghanistan’s prize-winning girls’ robotics team say they’re on a life-saving mission — to build a ventilator from used car parts and help their war-stricken country battle the virus.

“If we even save one life with our device, we will be proud,” said Farooqi, 17.

Their pursuit of a low-cost breathing machine is particularly remarkable in conservative Afghanistan. Only a generation ago, during the rule of the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban in the late 1990s, girls weren’t allowed to go to school. Farooqi’s mother was pulled from school in third grade.

After the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, girls returned to schools, but gaining equal rights remains a struggle. Farooqi is undaunted. “We are the new generation,” she said in a phone interview. “We fight and work for people. Girl and boy, it does not matter anymore.”

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