THE EARLY BE­GIN­NING

ArabAd - - COVER STORY -

“My mother, aptly named Marie, was a saint of a woman. She and my fa­ther formed an ad­mirable cou­ple, in love un­til their last breath. To­gether, they raised me and my two sis­ters, Rosette and Ar­lette. Though I learned a lot from all of them, the big­gest and only les­son my fa­ther ever taught me, is that my pil­low is my judge and jury. This, in and of it­self, is great wealth. I sleep with a clear con­science, 1994 – The first Christ­mas of RA&A build­ing in Achrafieh 1951 – An­dre Rizk with Dr. Noun, the Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion, dur­ing the cer­e­mony of award­ing the Le­banese Merit to the di­rec­tor of Col­lege Protes­tant Louise Weg­man at Starco

be­cause I have no fears to dis­pel,” he said ca­su­ally sit­ting be­hind the desk of his fa­ther’s mak­ing.

“As far back as I can re­mem­ber, I have al­ways de­pended on my­self, which was an­other les­son learned, con­sid­er­ing that my fa­ther, Ibrahim, was a go-get­ter who had to start work­ing at the age of six as a porter af­ter the death of his fa­ther, to sup­port his mother and baby brother,” he re­called.

By the age of 10, Ibrahim had taught him­self the craft of rat­tan fur­ni­ture mak­ing

and by the time he cel­e­brated his eigh­teenth birth­day, he opened his own work­shop. In 1960, he had a labour force of over one-hun­dred work­ing for him in a 1,000m2 fac­tory on Mgr Ghofrael Street in the heart of Achrafieh.

“Thirty years later, in 1990, Rizk­group moved into the very same build­ing where my fa­ther’s three-storey work­shop stood af­ter adding ad­di­tional floors to ac­com­mo­date the agency’s en­tire staff,” Rizk said with the pride of a man who built his own empire.

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