Middle East/North Africa

Oklahoma woman helps evacuate girls on Afghan robotics team

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An Oklahoma mom flew to Qatar earlier this month to help rescue Afghan girls whom she feared were in danger, NBC News reports.

The group of girls, ages 16 to 18, are a part of the Afghan Girls Robotic Team. Allyson Reneau, an entrepreneur and author, first met the girls while serving as a member of the board of directors for Explore Mars.

She began to fear for their safety as the Taliban started regaining traction this month.

“I didn’t know where to start, but I couldn’t shake it,” Reneau said of her feeling that she needed to make sure the girls would be safe. “I said to myself, ‘What do I have in my hand? Where can I start?’ I felt a little helpless.”

A few days later on Aug. 9, she decided to take a “leap of faith” and fly to Qatar to see what could be done to help them.

“Sometimes action just opens doors, (but) I was going alone, and I’m thinking ‘Do I even know anyone in Qatar?'” Reneau told NBC News.

She added that a former roommate of hers was transferred to Qatar a few years back, so she decided to go to her for help.

“She said she worked in the U.S. Embassy in Qatar… she was sure her boss would approve helping the girls,” she said.

However the effort was no easy feat; Reneau worked with the embassy nonstop for two weeks to secure the girls’ evacuation.

“It’s a very narrow window of opportunity,” she said of the effort. “I knew that if I didn’t run through that door now — it’s now or never. Sometimes you only get one chance.”

Eventually, 10 girls from the team were flown out of Afghanistan and moved to a secure location.

“All the emotion, two weeks of work for them, it hit me all at once,” Reneau said of finding out the mission was a success.

She is currently working to safely evacuate the remainder of the group, NBC News notes, a challenge that has been complicated by the Tablian’s complete takeover earlier this week.

Tags Allyson Reneau NBC News Qatar Taliban War in Afghanistan

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