Missing UF Students Safe in Haiti

Jan 14, 2010 4:43pm

 ABC News on Campus reporter April Dudash blogs: 
  Family members and faculty at the University of Florida were relieved to hear today that two missing students are alive and well after surviving the most devastating earthquake to hit Haiti in more than two centuries. Jon Bougher (at left) and Roman Safiullin (at right) arrived on Monday to film a documentary for their graduate thesis on Planting Peace, a non-profit organization that has set up orphanages in Haiti and has provided de-worming medications to Haitian children. Gabrielle Bougher, sister of Jon Bougher, received word of her brother’s safety around 11 a.m. today. She wasn’t able to talk with him, but her mother received a call from him this afternoon.  Jon Bougher told his mother, Sara, that he was waiting in the airport for a flight to either the Dominican Republic or Miami, and the news has brought the entire family relief after not being able to contact him. “It’s been awful. It’s been terrible,” Sara Bougher said. “I have a very, very small family. My kids and my husband are my whole life. It was very traumatic.” “My brother’s my best friend,” Gabrielle Bougher said. “I’m glad that he’s safe, and I can’t wait to hear his voice and see him back in the U.S.” Dean John Wright of the UF College of Journalism and Communications said the college has never had students work in this kind of situation. “I didn’t sleep very well last night, but I will tonight,” Wright said. According to professor Churchill Roberts, co-director of the UF Documentary Institute both students had visited Haiti before. Roberts said Bougher and Safiullin are probably providing relief to those affected by the disaster. “I know these guys, and I’m guessing right now that they’re helping these kids,” he said.  
Family members, friends and faculty had all attempted to make contact with Bougher and Safiullin after Tuesday’s quake, but no one could get through. Andrew Tarter, a friend of Safiullin’s, was one of those people trying to establish contact. He gave the students a crash course in Haitian Creole before they left for Haiti. “I taught them how to scream ‘help,’ which is kind of ironic,” Tarter said. Jackson’s Planting Peace office received official word today that Dieubon, the orphanages and UF students are safe. “We’re all very blessed to receive that news,” Jackson said. Elsewhere in the country, 22-year-old Christine Gianacaci, a student from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., is still missing in Haiti, as are Lynn University faculty advisors Dr. Patrick Hartwick and Dr. Richard Bruno (at left). And according to NYU spokesman John Beckman, two New York University history students visiting Haiti this week have also gone missing while conducting research for their Ph.D program. Greg Childs and Nathalie Pierre (below) arrived in Haiti on Monday. NYU is ready to evacuate them once they are located.  Beckman said they are concerned for the students’ safety but have no reason to believe they did not survive. ABC News on Campus reporter Miles Doran contributed to this blog.

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