They had been preparing to participate in a global robotics challenge.
The FIRST Global Challenge will bring teams of teenage students from more than 100 countries to Washington, D.C., to tackle obstacles on the theme of providing clean water with technology — but the all-female Afghan team won’t be there.
Afghan technology leader and TIME 100 Person of the Year Roya Mahboob, who organized her country’s team, told Forbes its members cried “all the day” after their visas were denied. Only one other country’s team, Gambia, wasn’t able to get the required visas, Forbes reported.
“We aim to … become some of the young leaders of science and technology,” says a bio post for Team Afghanistan on First Global’s website from January 2017. “We want to develop and explore our minds and creativity and maybe unveil the genius inside of each one of us.”