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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 April 2006, 13:07 GMT 14:07 UK
My day in Iraq: Hairdresser
On Friday, 7 April, the BBC News website is asking people across Iraq how they live their lives.

Here, you can read about Um Mustafa, a hairdresser in Baghdad who describes how her life has changed since she last spoke to the BBC.

I work as a hairdresser. The shop isn't mine; I get a salary and let me tell you - it's not enough.

Baghdad shopkeepers
Shopkeepers struggle to keep open amidst the bombs
Last year, I spoke to the BBC about my life. Since then, nothing has improved - instead, it's getting worse.

First of all, we lost our car which my husband used to drive as a taxi for extra income.

It was written off and burned in an accident. So my husband has no job now.

Last year I was pregnant, but I lost my son days after the delivery. I think it was because of the long hours at work standing on my feet in this shop.

What kind of life is this... I'm just exhausted all the time.

I was tired and I made my baby son tired too. He was so weak when he was born. I had no time to rest and I had to work!

Kidnap fears

I have two other children. My daughter is 15; she's at that age when she wants new clothes and so many other things. But neither I nor my husband can afford that.

I'm not an old woman, I'm only 36. But, I look like I'm 50. My bones ache I'm so exhausted.

When she goes to school I pray that God keeps her safe because it's so dangerous right now especially with girls being kidnapped.

She used to go to high school but I don't let her go any more.

My son is in the primary school, I pray when he goes there: Oh God, Just protect him and keep him safe.

One day I allow him to go to school and then he stays at home the next day.

As for me, I'm not an old woman, I'm only 36. But, I look like I'm 50. My bones ache I'm so exhausted.

In the past we used to work until 9pm but nowadays we close at 6.30pm or even earlier when there's a curfew - we are so afraid.

Fearful gossip

There's no electricity, we used to use a private generator but there's no fuel to work it now.

Last year the fuel prices and availability were much better.

It's the same with food - I usually cook very simple meals now like chips for dinner, because food keeps getting more expensive by the day.

When a client comes in, we can wash her hair with warm water but mainly we wash with cold.

We warm the water using the cooker and we wash using this bowl of water.

We have to store the water in buckets because of the shortages.

My female clients usually talk about what's going on round here nowadays with the security situation.

However, we do not trust them all because we don't know everyone who comes in here.


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