An Oklahoma woman helped evacuate 10 girls from Afghanistan who were part of an all-female robotics team.
Allyson Reneau, who is the mother of 11 children and sits on the board of the space exploration group Explore Mars, told CNN’s “New Day” Friday that she met the Afghan girls at a conference in Washington in 2019.
“We chose to fly these girls over from Afghanistan to be part of our conference and to help them pursue their dreams to be in the engineering and space field,” Reneau told CNN host Brianna Keilar, adding that she kept in touch with the girls after the conference.
About two weeks ago, Reneau said, she “woke up with an overwhelming feeling that something was wrong” that drove her “to take some action” to somehow get the girls out of Afghanistan.
The Taliban’s restoration of Sharia law in the country threatens the rights of all, especially women. During the Taliban’s previous rule of Afghanistan, women couldn’t go out in public without a male escort and girls held no right to an education.
“I wasn’t sure where to start,” Reneau said. “I knew if they needed help and if they needed to be evacuated it would require some pretty powerful people, which is a little above my pay grade and my network. But I just couldn’t sit on my hands and do nothing. ”
“So I said to myself: ‘Self, you’ve given birth 11 times certainly you can do this,’” she added.
Reneau first contacted Republican Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe who connected her with a military liaison, she explained. However, as the situation became dire in Afghanistan and the Taliban took hold of the country, attention turned to simply getting Americans out, she said.
Persistence led Reneau to look into flying to Qatar, but she wasn’t sure who to turn to there.
“Sometimes when you have a dream, you just have to take that first step and take some more action,” Reneau said.
It then occurred to Reneau that she had a former roommate stationed in Qatar for the military.
“I contacted her, and she said, ‘Well, what’s going on?’ and I told her, and she said, ‘Well I work in the U.S. Embassy in Qatar, and my chief of staff, I think, would love to help these girls. Send me their passports, send me their information,’” Reneau recited.
Reneau said that her contact “went back to work at midnight and stayed up all night preparing all of their information and their packets and presented it, and the leadership there and also in Kabul went to town and took action.”
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