By Ahreefa BacchusJust over two weeks ago, the business community was shaken when one of the largest companies in Guyana, Gafoors Houston Complex was damaged in a fiery inferno. Over 60 per cent of the complex, which housed aExecutive Chairman Sattaur Gafoornumber of departments worth many millions, was destroyed in the Monday, May 9 fire.However despite this calamity, the company’s Executive Chairman Sattaur Gafoor remains resilient throughout the ordeal, ensuring his employees’ interests and wellbeing were placed before the company’s financial losses.The calamitous fire left some 530 employees worried sick as to where to seek alternative employment, but Gafoor after meeting with them as well as the company’s board the following Wednesday, relocated employees who live within close proximity of Parika, East Bank Essequibo; and Beterverwagting, East Coast Demerara branches to those locations. The remaining workers not relocated are being provided with 75 per cent of their salaries every month until they return to work.On Wednesday evening, Gafoor hosted an appreciation dinner for those persons who offered support to him in his time of worry. At the dinner, the Chairman reflected on the company’s history as well as his endurance during difficult times.Milestones and disastersGafoor reminisced about the foundation of the company and fondly shared recollections of his father’s venture which later became the reason that Gafoors became a household name across the country: “It was during this month, some 63 years ago, that my late father came to Georgetown to seek (his) fortune and started a small lumber yard business on the corner of Sussex Street. So this month has traditionally been a milestone for us, one of hope, one of change.”He went on to say that the fond memories of the month of May became darkened as disaster struck his business. “Change comes continuously in one form or another. It was during this month that I should have celebrated my 75th birthday, instead I stood and witnessed a fire, or should I say an out-of-control inferno, that destroyed more than 60 per cent of my business,” he solemnly stated.Heartbreak andholding the faithGafoor continued to relate the depth of the disastrous fire as he explained that most, if not all of the company’s equipment and fixtures were destroyed. However this would not cause him as much heartbreak as losing his personal belongings; mementos and letters from his departed parents which were housed at his Houston office.“What cannot be replaced are items surrounding my personal life, these letters from close relatives and family including my father and my mother who are long gone and two of my brothers who are now deceased. My personal library of more than 600 books which I moved to Houston against the advice of my wife, photographs with personalities including Forbes Burnham which are irreplaceable. It is heartbreaking to witness my life’s work go up in smoke and flames before my very eyes,” he shared.Renewed faith and rebuildingThe Chairman reflected on his response to witnessing the fire that dreadful evening. He explained that while it was painful to witness his hard work go up in flames, he knew that he would have to maintain his faith and focus on rebuilding the complex for his employees’ sake. “Each time there was an explosion from the glass bottles, or a loud sound as the roof or the floor fell, my heart sank and I realized that much could not be saved. My wife and I looked at each other questionably and then at the faces of despair and sorrow, many with over two to three decades of service to us. Many of them cried. You could see the sorrow in their faces, no doubt wondering about their livelihoods. But through it all, we knew at the back of our minds that we had to transcend this calamity,” Gafoor related.He used the opportunity to thank God that all his staff were able to exit the burning building in a timely manner and no one was hurt. “We thank God for his infinite mercy in which he left one portion of the building virtually untouched by that fire in which we could huddle together and try to put the pieces back together.That, I consider to be a great miracle and I thank God for his mercy and compassion. He gives with one hand and takes with the other. We cannot question Him, nor can we question His works,” he stated, after declaring that through this experience he has come out with his faith restored and renewed.The Gafoors Huston Complex has since the fire re-opened its doors to the general public and are currently operating all of the various departments that customers have come to know and trust in the portion of the business that was not gutted by the fire.