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Last Updated: Friday, 12 November, 2004, 10:28 GMT
Iraqi's hit house makeover show
Man inspects the ruins of his home in Iraq
Often buildings have suffered 100% damage
A home makeover-style TV programme in Iraq that offers needy families the opportunity to have their war-damaged homes re-built from scratch has become a massive hit.

Labour And Materials, broadcast on Iraqi satellite channel Al Sharqiya, does not merely redecorate a room, but reconstructs entire properties destroyed in the ongoing conflict in the country.

The programme makers select families whose homes have been made uninhabitable either during the war or since, and reconstruct it to the extent of supplying new furniture - and even shiny new kitchen gadgets - for free.

"We knew it would be virtually impossible to get the house back to how it used to be," participant Raham Majad, whose house was destroyed in August, told BBC World Service's Outlook programme.

"A week after the explosion, Sharqiya channel came to our house, along with many other television channels, to see how much damage had been done and how many people had been killed.

"Three days later, Sharqiya came again, to tell us they'd rebuild our house - and pay for it too."

Rigorous process

Thousands have applied for the programme, but they have to go through a rigorous process.

Families selected typically have had their house was destroyed as a result of the war, and been made homeless as a result.

Iraqi boy with a damaged bicycle
We want to motivate government institutions and human rights organisations to take their share in the reconstructions
Labour And Materials producer Riyadh Salman
One woman whose situation was deemed desperate enough was Hodar Mohammed Yasin, whose house was blown up when US forces exploded a truck loaded with rockets that had been left outside her home by officers of Saddam's regime.

Having already lost her husband before the war, she was left on her own with five children. According to an independent assessor, her house had suffered 100% damage.

"They chose my house as the first one to be rebuilt because I'm a widow and I have five children, and no-one to help me," she explained.

"The reconstruction lasted 45 days. I received the keys to my house on the 10th of April this year - exactly one year to the day since it had been destroyed."

Since the programme first aired, Labour And Materials' producers have been inundated with thousands of applications.

However, only three Iraqi families have been involved so far.

But producer Riyadh Salman insisted that the programme was attempting to highlight the problems Iraqi people faced when their homes were destroyed, and were pressing for more assistance from others.

"We start from scratch, and finish by putting furniture in these houses," he said.

"We want to motivate government institutions and human rights organisations to take their share in the reconstructions.

"But in spite of all the calls we've made to them, we haven't had any response."

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