Hoosier stuck in Africa during Ebola outbreak

INDIANAPOLIS - A college student from Indiana was stuck in West Africa in the midst of the deadly Ebola outbreak.

Aristotle Jones, 22, is a senior at Tuskegee University who went to Liberia in late June on a humanitarian mission trip.

Due to the outbreak, flights were canceled and the students were stuck.

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Everyone in Jones’ group was safe and healthy and the students were staying inside in the home of a university president in Monrovia. They were scheduled to fly back to the U.S. on Aug. 17.

Jones’ mom said that day will not come soon enough. 

"He's always talked about wanting to go to Africa as a young child and you know what, a dream has come true," Michelle Jones said.

Michelle said when Aristotle first told her about going on the humanitarian trip with five fellow students, she had her doubts.

He told her he would be teaching eighth-grade English to African children and that was when she became OK with the idea of the trip.

"That's when I started to say, 'Hmmm, maybe I should let my son do this,' because maybe he can come back to the States and share his experience and perhaps when he has children he can share with his children," Michelle said.

But everything changed when Aristotle’s girlfriend sent Michelle a text message. That was the first time Michelle had heard about the Ebola outbreak.

"I started to worry all over because I said, 'Well what if Aristotle is sick and they don't know it?' 'What if he comes back to the States and he's sick?' But then when I learned they weren't in direct contact with anyone who had it, then it calmed me down again," Jones said.

Aristotle put Michelle’s fears to rest with a text message that he was OK. He reassured his mom and the rest of the world during an interview with ABC News on Thursday.

"We have not been in any contact with anyone that has contracted Ebola. We are in a safe environment where everyone is completely clean and safe," Aristotle said.

Tuskegee University released a statement Friday evening that said despite some border closures in Liberia, the group's flight back to the U.S. on Aug. 17 is still scheduled. The school has asked everyone to pray for the group’s safe return.

Follow Drew Smith on Twitter: @drewsmith1

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