OGDEN — The first Ogden family to get an “Extreme” home makeover was revealed Friday afternoon.
And in this case, the term “makeover” is probably a misnomer.
The Emmy-award winning reality TV show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” will build two houses in Ogden this month. The series is teaming with Ogden-based Wadman Corporation and several other entities to surprise two families in the area with new homes. The first of the two families was introduced Friday during a press conference at Wadman’s headquarters in west Ogden.
The Barobis — a refugee family from the Democratic Republic of Congo — were surprised Friday morning with a knock on their door from Extreme host Jesse Tyler Ferguson and the show’s new designers Carrie Locklyn, Breegan Jane and Darren Keefe.
The family won’t just be getting a home makeover — they’ll get an entirely new home, to be built in just one week on a vacant lot in downtown Ogden.
Wadman will be responsible for overseeing the project’s construction, but the company will work with Visit Ogden and the city to help manage the event. The Goal Foundation is working to recruit volunteers. Weber State University, the Ogden Downtown Alliance, Weber County and the Boys and Girls Club will also be involved in the effort.
“What the Barobi family has endured in unthinkable,” said Dave Hogan, president of Wadman Corporation. “We’re excited to start building (their) home. Our construction team has spent months working with our community, subcontractors, suppliers and the Extreme team on planning, organizing and turning dreams into a reality.”
Four Barobi siblings, their aunt and cousin share a small Ogden apartment with three bedrooms, one bathroom and no air conditioning or storage space.
At 13, the eldest brother in the family, Ashraf, became guardian to his three younger siblings, who were 12, 10 and 5. Congo rebels killed the Barobi kids’ parents and a younger sister. Ashraf, who is now 20, helped his siblings escape to a refugee camp in Uganda. During the month-long journey, the family had to stay off main roads and out of villages to avoid the rebels. They survived by picking vegetables from gardens along the way.
On their first day at the refugee camp, Ashraf spotted the family’s aunt, Anifah. She had only a small tent and her young daughter Habiba, but took Ashraf and his siblings in. They’ve been together ever since.
The family was granted asylum in the United States and with the help of Catholic Community Services, settled in Utah four years ago.
Ashraf’s younger sister, 17-year-old Azida, said learning of her new house was a life-changing moment.
“We’re shocked and overwhelmed — still trying to process the whole day,” she said. “This is something that will be in my life forever. It was an unforgettable moment.”
Milan Vasic, a producer with the show, said volunteers are still needed in the home building effort. Visit wadman.com/ExtremeMakeover for information about volunteering and contributions. Those interested in volunteering can also visit an event tent that will be set up at the corner of Washington Boulevard and 20th Street during the next week. The second Ogden family to receive a home will be announced Saturday.
Long produced by ABC, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” will air on HGTV. The network plans to air 10 episodes, with the first premiering in early 2020.