An all-girl robotics team from Afghanistan will have one of their inventions competing in the FIRST Global Challenge held in Washington, D.C. But according to Forbes, they won’t be able to attend—despite having risked their lives not once, but twice to get the necessary visas.
The six teenagers come from Herat, a city in the western part of Afghanistan. To apply for the business visa that would allow them come to the U.S. for seven days—enough time to see the international competition through—they had to travel 500 miles to Kabul, a city that’s recently seen suicide attacks and a truck bombing that was one of the deadliest strikes of the Afghan War. Despite being denied the first time, they went again: according to Forbes, they hoped that doing another round of interviews would help their case.
Unfortunately, they were rejected yet again. The visa is a hard one to get: Forbesreports that State Department records show that only 32 of the visas needed were issued in Afghanistan last year. And they’re not the only ones unable to attend: the team from Gambia also wasn’t able to get the necessary visas, although those from Iran, Iraq, and Sudan were.