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Leading article: A part to play

Ours can be a depressing world, and these are cold times. All the more important, then, to try to hang on to the sense of goodwill that Christmas fleetingly offered.

Today is the final day in our Christmas Appeal. Over the past month we have printed 30 stories through which we have tried to convey some idea of how the Christmas insight can be maintained in a hard world. We cannot change everything, but we can make a real difference. That is clear from our final story of how the work of one of our charities, ActionAid, prevented a seven-year-old girl from a mutilating circumcision.

Our second charity, Computer Aid International, shows how technologies we take for granted can transform the lives of African farmers. And our third, Peace Direct, has revealed that peacemaking is the painstaking work of ordinary people. It is work in which you too can play a part. The postbag, phone lines and internet links will be open for donations for another month.