This article appeared in the April 22, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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A $300 ventilator made with car parts? These Afghan girls just did that.

Seth Wenig/AP/File
Roya Mahboob, CEO of the Afghan Citadel Software Company, participates in an event in New York, Oct. 9, 2018.

Today’s issue looks at efforts to end the humanitarian disaster in Yemen, why a backlash against lockdowns is flaring, a moment of decision for Europe, the effect of COVID-19 on climate, and our latest list of comfort films.

But first, a look at coronavirus-fueled ingenuity.

When Roya Mahboob looked out across her country, two things stood out. As of April 2, Afghanistan had two hospitals designed to deal with COVID-19 patients – with a grand total of 12 working ventilators. And across the border in Iran loomed one of the worst coronavirus hotspots on the planet. So she and her team got to work.

Ms. Mahboob founded the Afghan Dreamers, a group of teenage girls who solve problems with robotics. Now, they can put a pandemic on the list of problems they’ve helped address. Using parts scavenged from Toyota Corollas and local shops, the Dreamers have built a $300 ventilator that is awaiting World Health Organization approval.

The girls based the design on a model from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and when they ran the plans by a professor there, “He was so surprised and wrote back to us saying that it was a clever design,” Ms. Mahboob tells A Mighty Girl, which tracks efforts to empower girls.

Global data show that the most effective way to improve health and wealth is to empower women. To Ms. Mahboob, her Dreamers have just dramatically driven home that point. “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.”

This article appeared in the April 22, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 04/22 edition
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