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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 December 2007, 11:30 GMT
'Not one of us can bring back yesterday'
By Debabani Majumdar
BBC News, London

Funeral of Rizwan Darbar
Rizwan's family visited him at the cemetery on Eid
As the new year approaches, most people will be busy making plans and resolutions but for 26 families the festive season will be perhaps their darkest ever.

This year, 26 young lives were ended prematurely on London's streets.

For Tausif Darbar, 19, the death toll ceased to be a statistic when his 17-year-old brother Rizwan was stabbed in October.

Rizwan was in West Ham Park, Plaistow, east London, with friends when he was stabbed by a group as he tried to stop them stealing a friend's phone.

Tausif rushed to his brother as he heard of the stabbing and spoke to him hours before he died.

As the family offered Eid prayers last week tears welled up in Rizwan's mother's eyes as only two of the three brothers were present.

Tausif said: "Traditionally we come back from the mosque and meet my mother.

Rizwan Darbar
Not one of us can bring back yesterday or shape tomorrow, only today is ours and won't be ours for long
Rizwan Darbar

"My mother burst into tears when she saw me and my younger brother."

"Its just not the same... The house is really quiet. He had a huge presence in the house which is sorely missed.

"It was very difficult to go and see him in the cemetery. You never think you would come to a day when you go to see your own brother at the cemetery."

Rizwan was preparing for his A-levels and had drawn up a plan for the future. He wanted to study business management and then wanted to deal in the City.

The teenager was also actively involved in sports and used to mentor those younger than him at West Ham United.

Rizwan was also looking forward to the 2012 Olympics and was a volunteer for events staged in the borough to promote the Games, Tausif said.

But all hopes and aspirations are gone and as the new year approaches the family is trying to come to terms with the reality and a lifetime without Rizwan's smiles and jokes.

For Tracey Ford and her teenage daughter the festive season is going to be just like any other week.

Tracey Ford
Tracey Ford says she can no longer celebrate Christmas as special

In February her son James Smartt-Ford, 16, had gone to an ice-skating rink in Streatham, south London, with friends. He never returned.

He was shot twice near the entrance to the ice rink.

"There isn't a Christmas, it's just another day for us, not a Christmas.

"There's no happiness, no celebration, its about your family and children... it's not for us."

She said her 14-year-old daughter has gone quiet since the incident.

"You can see the loneliness... she can't be herself because a part of her is gone.

"I'm doing as best as I can, as best as I know."

As the tragic year comes to a close, families of victims issue appeals urging witnesses to speak up about the killings, but as they wait for answers and justice the hurt is all they are left with.

Mrs Ford said: "For me the sadness is always there, the anger is not there - how can I be angry with kids?

James Andre Smartt-Ford
James Andre Smartt-Ford was shot at an ice rink in February

"The anger is about the children who are dying daily, weekly... its not a bad anger for me, its just bad acceptance."

For Tausif Darbar the pain and anger is yet to subside and he is reminded of it every time another young life is lost.

"Carrying a weapon won't make you a big man and it has terrible consequences, which we have seen.

His message is for both the youths and their families.

"Keep an eye on the kids, question them on anything and make them realise what effect it can cause.

"And for younger lads - be careful, know what you're doing. You never know who you are getting involved with and don't hesitate to contact the police."

Tausif kept a few lines that Rizwan had jotted down.

"Not one of us can bring back yesterday or shape tomorrow, only today is ours and won't be ours for long, once it's gone, it will never be ours again, so make the best of everyday! Good morning!"

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