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A Dream Deferred in Kabul

In our country, we are blessed with a God-given right to challenge, to argue, to dissent.... Last month, I saw that same undying human spirit in one of the world's most brutal societies, Afghanistan. Despite two years of oppression by a fanatic regime, there still was hope. In the rubble of Kabul, a city devastated by war, the women move silently, ghostlike figures, now shrouded head-to-toe in heavy robes as required by their rulers....

Yet with bands of heavily armed militia roaming the streets, two young men sought me out, desperate to tell their family story, despite the law against talking to any women.... An 18-year-old and his 20-year-old brother huddled on the floor of our car to avoid being detected by police. They told me how their mother had been headmistress at a school, their teenage sister an eager student. Now both are locked in a small mud house in a bombed-out city.... The young men, too, were beginning to lose hope, hope of having any future. The elder told me, "Someday we will be free. You will return...," he said. "By then I will also be a journalist." This in a place where there is no freedom of expression. Even in that place, forsaken by the rest of the world, he was holding firmly, tightly to a dream.

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* From a May 16, 1998, address by Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign-affairs correspondent for NBC News. She spoke at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga.

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