SALT LAKE CITY – A Congolese family that fled for their lives and were resettled in Utah will soon land in a custom-built home in Ogden, thanks to "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," Ogden general contractor Wadman Corporation and an army of volunteers.
The Barobi family's is one of two homes the HGTV show, along with community partners, is designing and building in Weber County this week.
Construction of another residence is underway in Washington Terrace for the Mayo family whose home was badly damaged when a small tornado touched down in their neighborhood in September 2016.
Both families are on vacation in an "undisclosed location" while the construction is underway, said designer Darren Keefe.
Crews have been working around the clock since late last week on both projects. The two homes are scheduled to be revealed Thursday and Saturday.
"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" designers Breegan Jane, Carrie Locklyn and Keefe said an episode on the Ogden area projects will air on HGTV in 2020 as one of 10 new episodes.
The show selects families in need who give back to their communities. Under normal circumstances, their existing homes are demolished and a new one is built in seven days.
In the Mayo family's case, a tree crashed onto the roof of their 1950s era home as a result of the tornado. Water and sewer lines broke, causing lingering issues. Kelly Mayo took out a loan to fix the sewer line, but each time family members showered or did laundry, the basement flooded.
The Barobi family of six has been living in a rented, 1,000-square-foot duplex with three bedrooms and one bathroom. Their new home is under construction on a parcel donated by the city of Ogden at 517 E. 22nd Street.
The family, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, was resettled to Salt Lake City by Catholic Community Services of Utah about five years ago but moved to Ogden because housing is more affordable in Weber County.
The designers said they are sensitive to the tight-knit family's desire to to spend time together in shared spaces but also to accommodate their individual needs, particularly now that the girls are teenagers.
The family includes Anifah Barobi and her daughter, as well as Ashraf Kambere and his sisters and their brother, who is on a church mission. Anifa is Ashraf's and his siblings' aunt.
Ashraf was profiled by the Deseret News in 2018 for his extraordinary efforts to graduate from Utah International Charter School in South Salt Lake while living in Washington Terrace. Ashraf rode public transportation nearly five hours a day to and from school in order to complete his high school studies. He is now in college.
The designers said one of the greatest challenges of designing family's new home has been their perspective on what they might need or want.
Their lifestyle has been "utilitarian" and "no frills," Keefe said.
"We're really excited to reflect their personality in the home, which we know is not something they've had before," he said.
When asked about their current apartment, they would say it's "'kind of too small.' They're extremely humble," Keefe said.
"They're extremely grateful to have what they have," said Locklyn.
Jane said it was at times difficult to draw out from the family any preference about colors or design. "They're such grateful, humble people, they didn't want anything" specific, she said.
But the designers have conducted research on each family member to help inspire their design decisions. Ashraf, for instance, is working toward his goal of becoming an aerospace engineer. His sister Azida wants to become a lawyer.
While much of the major construction work is complete, plenty of volunteer jobs remain at both work sites through the makeover reveals.
"Regardless of your talents, all talents are needed," said Jane.
To volunteer or make financial donations on behalf of the Barobi and Mayo families, visit wadman.com/extrememakeover.