Varoujan Tussonian

Varoujan, or "Abou Rafi", was born in Beirut in 1934. He attended College Saint-Grégoire in Achrafieh, then transferred to Mesrobian School in Bourj Hammoud where he finished middle school.

He moved with his family from Beirut souks to Gemmayze, then again to Jeitawi, after the end of the Lebanese war. Varoujan spoke three different languages, Arabic, Armenian, and French. At fourteen, he trained to become a tailor and opened a small shop in Achrafieh – Rmeil, near the Vendome.

Varoujan spent decades in that shop, befriending people in his neighborhood. He was caring with the kids, respectful, and honorable with his neighbors and friends. Students in neighboring schools would always pass by to wish him a good day, and he would always offer them chocolate.

86-year old Varoujan was young at heart and loved life. According to his son Rafi, the whole neighborhood misses him and mourns his loss.

On the horrific August 4, Varoujan spent his morning at home. His sister called him, and although he usually never answers his phone, he answered her and even asked her to take care of herself, as if he was saying goodbye.

At 2:30 PM, Varoujan went to the shop, he then went to Achrafieh to buy bread and some fruit. At 5:30 PM he returned home with the groceries. His son Rafi went out to get some water, he heard firework-like sounds, along firetruck sirens. There was a fire at the Port of Beirut facing their home.

At 6:07 PM a huge explosion rocked the capital and echoed all over Lebanon. Abou Rafi was home alone. Glass panels fell over his body. Shards of glass wounded him and his head was cut open.

Rafi returned home and found him lying on the floor… he went out to find an ambulance but roads were blocked with rubble.

He asked their neighbors for help, and with the help of four other people, he put Varoujan on a bedsheet and evacuated him to the ambulance. His thin body made it easier to transport him. But suddenly, he became really heavy; Rafi felt at that moment that his father passed away. When they arrived to Jeitawi Hospital, it was indeed true: Varoujan left this world.

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