In America, when politicians fail, ordinary people come through

After four years of President Trump putting America first and gaining respect on the world stage, the American position abroad has crumbled. The Biden administration has wrought so much destruction that it is difficult not to despair about what the future holds. In no place is despair more warranted than in Afghanistan, a country being subjugated by the Taliban now that Biden has ended the American occupation. Women and girls who thought they had a chance for a brighter life are being thrust back to the Dark Ages and sexual slavery.

And yet, even in this horrific time, there are heroes among us rising to the occasion. Ten girls from the Afghan Girls Robotics Team were rescued this week by Allyson Reneau. Who is this woman? An intrepid soldier of fortune? An international adventurer of intrigue and mystery? A member of a real-life Mission: Impossible team?

No, she’s just an ordinary mom with 11 children, a 60-year-old appalled at the ascending violence against women and girls in Afghanistan. Allyson has known the girls of the robotics team since 2019 when she worked on the board of directors for Explore Mars. She met the girls at the organization’s annual Humans to Mars conference. Ironically, the girls were considered an example of how women’s rights had improved in Afghanistan following the American invasion after 9/11. Now they were in danger of being turned into sex slaves.

Allyson couldn’t bear the thought of the future the girls faced under the Taliban. She tried reaching out to Jim Inhofe, one of the Republican senators from Oklahoma and a ranking member of the Armed Services Committee. The senator was too swamped with calls for help from American citizens to assist Allyson.

She might have accepted that there was nothing she could do. A lot of people might have felt they had done all they could. Not Allyson. She flew to Qatar, where a friend in the U.S. Embassy helped assemble passports and other documents to get the girls out of Afghanistan. They worked all night desperately trying to gather the precious papers that would allow ten girls to escape a life of degradation, and they succeeded. The team was safely evacuated to the United States, where they will have an opportunity to continue their education and live their lives in peace and freedom.

Allyson’s work is not done. She is trying to evacuate 25 more girls, while the Taliban goes door to door, seizing young girls and forcing them to become child brides. It is appalling to think of the life women face now in Afghanistan, where oppression is real and not a matter of “microaggressions” or anguish over cultural appropriation or the woes of ancestors who have long turned to dust.

Women in Afghanistan are being relegated to nothing more than furniture to be covered up with drapes and used at the pleasure of violent men who don’t care about anything but their own desires. Ten girls have escaped this fate, thanks to Allyson Reneau, a great American hero.

Pandra Selivanov is the author of Future Slave, a story about a 21st century black teenager who is sent back in time and becomes a slave in the old south.

Image: Members of the Afghan Girls Robotics Team. YouTube screen grab.

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