Dear Sisters,

Like many Afghans, I didn’t know much about Robotics, but felt deeply saddened when I heard that your visa was denied – twice – and you almost didn’t get to compete in the Washington, DC, USA FIRST Global Olympics.

Most of the time, all we get from the media is sad news about Afghanistan, so this seemed like yet another disappointment to swallow. Roya Mahboob, an all-star in her own right and your mentor, had to quickly assemble another team of Afghan-American girls who could play on your behalf while you watched the competition on screen from Herat.

Afghan Robotics American girls

My sister, Sajeda (far right), prepared to compete on your behalf and was overjoyed when you took your rightful place.

My sister, Sajeda Shuaib, was selected as part of that second team. Luckily, she had been in the Robotics Club in middle school so she at least had some notion of what to do. Sajeda felt apprehensive at first, to represent the Afghan Girl’s Robotics team, as she felt you should be the ones here to see your hard work come to fruition. She eventually decided to go ahead and represent Afghanistan and hopefully lead us to robotics victory so she would make you proud.

After tireless advocacy by activists, politicians and other influencers, you were finally granted entry. My sister felt relieved and overjoyed for you finally being allowed to come, despite the tears of rejection you had already shed.

Of course, Sajeda and I were in the opening ceremony cheering for our home team! I felt like crying tears of joy myself, watching you lead the start of the ceremony, with such grace and honor.

Words cannot describe my pride and elation in seeing you walk on the stage, gloriously waving the Afghan flag. You represent all of what is best about Afghanistan and the strides our country has made, despite war and terrorism taking our brightest minds from us daily. You embody hope and positivity for the next generation who are striving to promote peace, unity, and progress. You give me hope for a better future.

As DC-area natives, Sajeda and I wish you a lovely stay here in DC. We hope you get to explore our museums, eat ice-cream, go shopping and – overall – enjoy being a tourist- while you break boundaries and claim victories!

We are so thankful to and proud of you for all the intense work you’ve done. You will forever remain winners in our hearts – especially for showing the world what Afghanistan is capable of. May the rest of your endeavors also be triumphant.

With Love and Sisterhood,
Pary Shuaib and contributions from Sajeda Shuaib

About the author

Pary Shuaib is a Free Women Writers member with a relentless passion for gender equality. She has a BA in Communication from George Mason University and sometimes does yoga to soothe her soul.

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This piece previously ran on Free Women Writers and is republished on Women You Should Know with express permission from its author.

Feature image courtesy of Afghanistan Embassy in Washington, D.C.