A Place Of Hope In Afghanistan

Nestled in the foothills of the Hindu Kush Mountains is a sleepy green valley that belongs to another age, reports CBS News Correspondent Lara Logan.

But scratch the surface of the deeply conservative rural place, where women are second-class citizens, and you'll find something quite extraordinary -- a place where young girls can find hope.

It's a school, run by an American charity, Catholic Relief Services.

It may not look like much -- there isn't even a classroom, but it's a start.

"If you talk to the girls they want to become teachers, they want to become lawyers, one said she wanted to become President -- so it means a lot to them," said Anne McLaughlin, Catholic Relief Services.

Local custom is so strict many parents won't allow their daughters to walk on public roads to state schools. So the girls are taught near their homes. There are separate classes for boys.

Thirteen-year-old Satara had never been to school before this. She wants to become a doctor.

And she had a message for the American people:

"I want them to help us rebuild our roads and make more schools."

The girls' teacher, Morsal, is only seventeen. But she's been teaching for years -- even when girls education was banned under the Taliban and she had to hold her lessons in secret. Now she has other problems.

"We don't have enough books and chairs," she said. "But I have the courage to teach and they have the courage to learn."

All the state schools in Afghanistan are closed at this time of year and most children are on vacation, but these students are so eager to catch up on the education they've missed that they come to class here six days a week, twelve months a year.

Only 21 percent of Afghan women can read or write - and in some villages, the end of the Taliban has made little difference.

Burquas hanging over a tree belong to the older girls, who were so afraid they hid from the camera.

The funding may come from abroad, but it's the Afghan villagers who keep the project alive -- eager to take advantage of the first peace they've known in 25 years and give their children the chance of a better life.
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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