In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, five girls from Afghanistan who are a part of the Afghan Girls Robotics Team have designed a cheap ventilator powered by a Toyota Corolla.
In a report by Ashleigh Stewart at The National, Roya Mahboob, tech entrepreneur and one of the first female chief executives in Afghanistan, started the project in order to “help young women build digital literacy.” According to Mahboob, her and her team “help [their] people and [their community]. [As they] will do anything to help them.” The girls have proven themselves to be quite successful as they have won international contests in Europe and have participated in science competitions in India.
As cases of COVID-19 are increasing in Afghanistan, communities are in desperate need of ventilators in order to properly treat those affected by the virus. Luckily, some of Mahboob’s students, five young-women – Somaya Faruqi, Dyana Wahbzadeh, Folernace Poya, Ellaham Mandori, and Nahid Rahimi – have been working on prototypes for about a year.
According Stewart, “one is a gear-based system based on a design from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US. The other uses parts from a Toyota Corolla.” Mahboob notes that “the idea of these machines is that we use them for emergency cases, when there are no professional ventilators. The thing in Afghanistan is, we don’t have enough ventilators, but that’s the case for many countries, even Italy or New York. If we don’t have access to anything professional we can use these ones.”
As a new governor of Herat has just taken office, Mahboob does not yet know the immediate reality for their designs, but she does hope that the new governor will look at their work favorably. Mahboob believes that, “if these girls have access to the opportunity or the tools, their lives can be changed. But not only their lives, they can change their community too.”
Sources: The National 4/6; The Diplomat 4/7