'Independent' Christmas appeal raises £245,093

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Pessimism is a luxury of the rich. So said one of the women set to benefit from The Independent's 2005 Christmas Appeal, which has now closed, having collected a total of £245,093.

The woman concerned was a human rights worker trying to stop "honour killings" in India, the Middle East and Britain. But it is a sentiment which might have come from those working with any of the 30 different projects around the world which are funded by the three charities on which the appeal centred. For optimism, resilience and commitment is what characterises the work of all of them.

Our readers responded by raising almost a quarter of a million pounds, no small feat considering that the same readership gave £580,000 only a few months earlier when we launched an appeal to help the victims of the earthquake in Kashmir.

"The result is spectacular," said Belinda Greenwell of Children in Crisis, which helps children around the world affected by conflict, deprivation or other hidden crises. Jon Gritten of Education Action, which provides education and training for refugees and people affected by conflict, said: "The appeal total demonstrates the overwhelming generosity of readers of The Independent coming after the responses to previous disaster appeals in the past 12 months."

But it was more than a question of raising cash. "Journalists have written some quite remarkable stories about our work, which have really helped to increase the exposure of our overseas work to the British public," said Justine Williams of the third charity, Practical Action, which offers simple and innovative low-tech solutions to the problems of poverty.

One of the most moving stories was about how Practical Action has designed a new stove that reduces the amount of wood needed for cooking - a boon not just for the environment but for the safety of refugees in Darfur, where women are often raped while on their long excursions outside the camps to look for firewood.

The extra money will enable each charity to expand into new projects.

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