A group of six teenagers from Afghanistan were planning to travel to the U.S. this summer to compete in a global robotics challenge, but their visas were rejected.
Just to apply for the visa, the girls had to travel some 800 kilometers across the country on two occasions to reach the U.S. embassy in Kabul.
The girls wept when they heard that the embassy had rejected their visa application. Of all the international teams planning to attend the First Global Challenge robotics competition, only the teams from Afghanistan and from Gambia were denied visas, according to The Independent.
Although they will not be able to attend, the Afghani girls' robot, which sorts balls, will be sent to the competition to compete.
Afghanistan's first female tech CEO, Roya Mahboob – who founded Citadel software company – brought the team of girls together.
"It's a very important message for our people," Mahboob told Forbes. "Robotics is very, very new in Afghanistan." But she said when the girls heard that their visa applications had been rejected, "they were crying all the day."
The U.S. State Department does not comment on visa applications, but teams from Iran, Iraq and Sudan were granted visas, even though these countries are included in the partially reinstated travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries.
First Global President Joe Sestak called the young women "extraordinarily brave," and expressed his disappointment regarding the decision.