- pile into ～
- back road
- skirt ～
- hot spot
- 人工呼吸器（後出 breathing machine も同意）
- (be) suspected to be ～
- short supply
- come up with ～
- open-source blueprint
On most mornings, Somaya Farooqi, 17, and four other teenage girls pile into her dad's car and head to a mechanic's workshop. They use back roads to skirt police checkpoints set up to enforce a lockdown in their city of Herat, one of Afghanistan's hot spots of the coronavirus pandemic.
The members of Afghanistan's prize-winning girls' robotics team say they're on a lifesaving mission — to build a ventilator from used car parts and help their country battle the virus.
Their pursuit of a low-cost breathing machine is particularly remarkable in conservative Afghanistan. Only a generation ago, during the rule of the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban in the late 1990s, girls weren't allowed to go to school.
After the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, girls returned to schools. "We are the new generation," Farooqi said in a phone interview. "We fight and work for people."
Afghanistan has only 400 ventilators for a population of more than 36 million. As of April 22, it has reported just over 1,000 coronavirus cases, including 36 deaths, but the actual number is suspected to be much higher since test kits are in short supply.
These conditions have spurred Farooqi and her team members, ages 14 to 17, to help come up with a solution.
At the workshop, the team is experimenting with two different designs, including an open-source blueprint from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The parts being used include the motor of a Toyota windshield wiper, batteries and sets of manual oxygen pumps.
Farooqi, who was just 14 years old when she went to the 2017 First Global Challenge, an international robotics contest held that year in the U.S., said she and her team members hope to make a contribution.
"Afghans should be helping Afghanistan in this pandemic," she said. "We should not wait for others." (AP)
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