Before her encounter with the Labour and Materials team, Um Hussein was in despair. Her modest home in the al-Sharjiya district was destroyed last year on April 10, one day after the fall of Baghdad. Three weeks earlier, her husband of 25 years had died. She was still in the official 40-day mourning period. “I tried for months to get compensation, but no one was interested,” she said. Then the Labour and Materials team turned up. “I am not going to forget what they did for us. If only they could do every Iraqi house destroyed by bombs, then those who are doing the sabotage and the attacks would stop.”
You’d think the last thing Iraqis would want is a reality show. Especially one built around a makeover. But they’ve got one now and they love it, reports The Age. The producers of the generically named Labour and Materials select poor families whose homes have been destroyed either during or after the war, then rebuild and furnish them, a lot of the furniture and kitchen appliances coming from viewer donations. More than 3,000 families have applied to be on the show, but the selection process is necessarily arduous and, because of financial and logistical pressures, the show can work on only one house at a time. Two homes in Baghdad have been restored already, at a cost of about $28,000 each, and producers want to make over houses in Amara and Basra next.