My name is Kathy Eldon. My son, Dan Eldon, was a photojournalist with Reuters covering the Somali Civil War. He alerted the world to the horrors faced by Somali civilians, but he was murdered by a mob following a UN strike with heavy civilian casualties.

I struggled with forgiveness after Dan’s death—forgiving his killers and forgiving myself for not having been able to prevent it. I found peace with the men who murdered him by learning to see them as human, and with myself by working to keep Dan's spirit alive. My new memoir, In the Heart of Life, tells the story.

I knew I needed to do something positive to honor Dan’s memory. I started the Creative Visions Foundation to help others like Dan use media and the arts to make meaningful changes to the world. To date, our creative activists have touched the lives of over 90 million people, and raised more than $11 million so they can continue their work.

You can help Creative Visions Foundation support these artists and creative activists by watching Beyond Right & Wrong on You might remember the film from Jo Berry’s AMA. The community response to her story was so impressive, I thought I could share my own story of loss and forgiveness. Each view means $.50 goes to charity on your behalf (please consider the Creative Visions Foundation).

Ask me anything about how to forgive others and yourself after the death of a loved one, and how we can use art and media to make a meaningful impact on the world.


Edit Thank you for all of your questions. I have to head out for now, but keep asking! I will try to answer some more questions when I can this evening and tomorrow. I had no idea what to expect when I arrived this morning, but the experience has been profound and moving and I am grateful to have heard your stories and be able to share mine.

Comments: 413 • Responses: 46  • Date: 

juliolingus1022 karma

Oh my god. Your son was my role model growing up. I have never felt as starstruck as I am sitting in this hospital bed trying to think of something to ask you. I have purchased and given away 40+ copies of his books because they moved me so much. No one has ever affected me the way those books do. Your son gave me a love of adventure, a passion for photography, and most importantly a desire to embrace life by the horns and see where you can make it. Will we get to see more pages from the journals??? I love you!

KathyEldon819 karma

So now I've got tears streaming down my face. Get out of the hospital and tackle your next safari. Come and visit me at the Dan Eldon Center for Creative Activism and know that Dan's crazy spirit is on your shoulder nudging you and won't leave until you can soar again. Can't wait to meet you!

joannchilada291 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA. Do you have any advice for helping others to forgive?

KathyEldon529 karma

What a great question. Thank you so much. If you really want to read about the writings of forgiveness, I would recommend Fred Luskin, who examines what forgiveness is and isn't. Forgiveness is not forgetting, nor desiring justice, but it's releasing the emotion around the act. It's for you, not for the other person, and it really makes you the hero, not the victim. It stops the cycle of revenge, it can go on for generations, as we see exhibited so clearly in the world today. I found Luskin's work revelatory. I'd also recommend the film "Beyond Right & Wrong" which looks at three situations which seemed unforgivable, and shows how the "victims" truly became heroes. You can view the film on FilmRaise for free, and if you would, please choose Creative Visions and our foundation will get $0.50 per view.

emspfaery128 karma

Wow. You have put things in perspective for me. I'm very sorry for your loss.

KathyEldon171 karma

Thank you. That means so much to me. I have never done one of these chats before and it is really kind to get a response like that.


Don't know if you'll see this, but about ten years ago or so I bought your son's book and found it extremely moving. It had a great impact on my life and photography and I wanted to thank you for your part in putting it together. It is truly a masterpiece.

metal_falsetto20 karma

Same here. Whether this is good or bad, I'm still not sure, but every time I thumb through it, I can't help but think: "Holy shit. This kid did more in his brief life than I could hope to do in 20 lifetimes."

KathyEldon3 karma

So what's the next grand adventure for you? Make it absolutely amazing and be sure to include a Land Rover!

KathyEldon3 karma

You can't imagine how much those words mean to me! So grateful. Thank you for sharing your thoughts - one day I hope to meet you in person!

MBAbrycerick176 karma

I was inspired by your son as a young man. I kept journals the way he did and was inspired tremendously by "the journey is the destination."

As a man not able to make the impact your son and you have, how can I make an impact from where I am? Are there ways to get involved that I can invest in while still working, raising a family and living where I live?

KathyEldon163 karma

I am so moved by your question. Clearly you are impacting the world around you in such a positive way. Go no further. If you want to do more, how about sharing the images you used to create and creating some more? Reflecting your perspective on the world - whether locally or globally. I think people would be so excited to see your creativity in action. We would call you a creative activist! Please visit creative and and share your work with us! We can't wait to communicate it widely - or visit us on Facebook - "Creative Visions Foundation," "Kathy Eldon," "Dan Eldon Project" - we can't wait to hear from you.

slruupp109 karma

What is your favorite photo that Dan took?

KathyEldon172 karma

My favorite photo is a picture of his little sister Amy, aged about 13, peeking around the side of his beloved Land Rover, Deziree. I'll post it on my Facebook page after this interview! It captures the confusion of a 13-year-old who was just about to fly.

wikkedwhite94 karma

What's the most memorable funny story about your son? The best way to live is remembering how they loved and lived.

KathyEldon147 karma

Dan's Masai mother "Kipenget," who lived on the Ngong Hills in Kenya, called him "Lesharo," which means "The Laughing One." It's hard to pinpoint any one incident in the life of someone who exuded such cheekiness. He delighted in masks and disguises and was known to don a wig to go to the market. Once, he and his little sister Amy dressed up as Afghan travelers when they met Dan's best friend, Lengai Croze, at a train station in London. Lengai passed by them many times until he recognized Amy's eyes peeking through her veil.

vendetta211514 karma

I'd just like to say that even though Dan was far too young, the good that he did in life lives on in every person that had the good fortune to know him, and in that respect he will live many lifetimes.

KathyEldon3 karma

None of us can imagine the influence we have on those around us. He would be honored beyond measure to read your words and I can only begin to imagine what a powerful, positive inspiration you are to others.

BaronVonCrunch68 karma

Have you ever tried to find the people who killed your son? Or the people who were there that day? If so, was it to talk to them, to get revenge or to bring them to some form of justice?

KathyEldon191 karma

In 1996, my daughter Amy and I returned to Somalia to visit the site where my son was killed with three young colleagues. I recall the visit vividly and have described it in my memoir, "In the Heart of Life." It was painful beyond measure to see the impact of the bombing of a villa where UN and US forces thought a warlord was hiding. Instead, there was a peace meeting attended by elders of the community, religious leaders, and architects who were planning a peaceful future. They were served by women and children. The bombing took out the staircase so that no one could escape. The survivors ran to the journalists hotel to beg Dan and his colleagues to come and photograph the carnage. Tragically, when the young journalists arrived, the people were so enraged that they beat and stoned the journalists to death. I knew this story when I arrived on the scene, but witnessing the reality of the devastation shattered both Amy and me. However, we had to leave quickly because our presence there upset Somali men and women - many of whom had been at the scene 3 years before and were angry that we had come to remind them of what had happened. They pounded on our vehicle and angrily demanded that we leave. It was very frightening and I left the scene feeling as hurt as I had been when I arrived. What happened next is the really interesting bit.

JenSimmons104 karma

What happened next?!

KathyEldon292 karma

Glad you asked! Sorry to leave you hanging. Amy and I returned to America as angry with Somalis as we had been when we left. We finished the film about journalists at risk, "Dying to Tell the Story," which was to premiere at the United Nations. The day of the premiere, Amy and I crawled into a taxi to head to the UN and to our amazement, the taxi driver was Somali. We looked at each other, what do we do now? I decided to tell him everything. On that journey, I shared how my son had been beaten and stoned to death by a Somali mob. I had no idea how he would react. When we arrived at the United Nations, I could see the flags fluttering in the background, and was ready to leave the car, when the driver turned around, and I could see that there were tears glistening in his eyes. "My name is Ibrahim and I know everything about your son and his friends. They were trying to help and they should never have been killed." Then, he looked at me and said, "On behalf of Somalis, I ask your forgiveness." I took a deep breath, and realized the truth of Gandhi's words, "If the world is to change, we have to be the change." "Thank you Ibrahim. I understand why the Somalis did what they did and I forgive the people who killed my son." With that, I felt as if a sky light opened in my soul and released a tremendous burst of energy. It flowed through me and I believe that energy is what has fueled the work I have done together with Amy since that day. For anyone interested in learning about the power of forgiveness, please view the film "Beyond Right & Wrong" - available for free on FilmRaise. Typing in "Creative Visions Foundation" on the site will help to benefit our foundation.

stupidfaceeater62 karma

that's absolutely incredible. talk about synchronicity. here's what i've found about forgiveness: holding on to ugly feelings is more toxic than letting them go, obviously. forgiving is for your own sake, not the sake of the offender. if you do not forgive, you are letting them kill you twice.

KathyEldon34 karma

Wow. You reflect exactly my views on forgiveness. May I recommend that you view "Beyond Right & Wrong" - available on FilmRaise - to see this exact forgiveness in action.

Rohmoe_the_Great40 karma

What a story.

Mothers really are the world's most impressive creatures :)

KathyEldon80 karma

It's a team effort. The world is experiencing a shift in consciousness, of both men and women, and that shift will result in more empathy, more compassion, and more forgiveness. It feels like a stretch right now, but I do believe we are headed towards a more enlightened society.

cherylbeee12 karma

what a profound moment for both of you (and Amy, too). that your heart and mind could expand to do this is beyond measure...your strength and courage is truly a superpower...I'm sure you have heard it over and over but you inspire and uplift multitudes...including me, my friend.

KathyEldon14 karma

Thank you so much. Inspire means simply "to breathe in" and I have been breathing in so many extraordinary people through the films and projects and exhibitions and productions of our 200 creative activists. Sometimes I feel like I am going to explode! I am grateful for my chance to share their stories and mine with you all today. What a privilege.

KathyEldon27 karma

Glad you asked! Sorry to leave you hanging. Amy and I returned to America as angry with Somalis as we had been when we left. We finished the film about journalists at risk, "Dying to Tell the Story," which was to premiere at the United Nations. The day of the premiere, Amy and I crawled into a taxi to head to the UN and to our amazement, the taxi driver was Somali. We looked at each other, what do we do now? I decided to tell him everything. On that journey, I shared how my son had been beaten and stoned to death by a Somali mob. I had no idea how he would react. When we arrived at the United Nations, I could see the flags fluttering in the background, and was ready to leave the car, when the driver turned around, and I could see that there were tears glistening in his eyes. "My name is Ibrahim and I know everything about your son and his friends. They were trying to help and they should never have been killed." Then, he looked at me and said, "On behalf of Somalis, I ask your forgiveness." I took a deep breath, and realized the truth of Gandhi's words, "If the world is to change, we have to be the change." "Thank you Ibrahim. I understand why the Somalis did what they did and I forgive the people who killed my son." With that, I felt as if a sky light opened in my soul and released a tremendous burst of energy. It flowed through me and I believe that energy is what has fueled the work I have done together with Amy since that day. For anyone interested in learning about the power of forgiveness, please view the film "Beyond Right & Wrong" - available for free on FilmRaise. Typing in "Creative Visions Foundation" on the site will help to benefit our foundation.

caxica-53 karma

How does it feel knowing your son gave his life to document war among a bunch of violent subhuman savages?

KathyEldon35 karma

I have many wonderful Somali friends and believe the culture is rich, deep, and has so much goodness in it. The Somalis have endured very difficult times which have disrupted their society in profound ways. I understand why Somalis did what they did and I wonder what my response would have been if I had witnessed the death of more than 60 of my friends and the wounding of another 150.

captaingregs49 karma


KathyEldon39 karma

Funny to run into you here! Come back to the Dan Eldon Center for Creative Activism. I am sitting in the Center right now - overlooking the Pacific Ocean - check out our latest happenings at and

xthereturn27 karma

Were you fully aware of the risk your son was taking when going to such dangerous places or did you always expect him to come home?

KathyEldon60 karma

Great question. As a journalist in Kenya myself, I was aware of danger to correspondents in war zones. However, no one I knew had been killed or even wounded back in 1993, so I did not think Dan would die. Towards the end of his last stint in Mogadishu, I was very worried and I suggested that it was time for him to leave. I describe the scene in my book, "In the Heart of Life," where Dan's response was, "Mum, the story isn't over. I can't leave yet." After a long pause, I replied, "OK. You're living the life of your choice, and I'm so proud of you." I am grateful, as that was the last conversation we would have.

sellbyjanuary1027 karma

I had a friend that did charitable mission work in Africa who died a few years ago while abroad. One of his favorite quotes was said by Dan Eldon: "The journey is the destination."

That always stuck with me. I think about Rob and that quote a lot. Although I never really knew who Dan Eldon was until I saw this AMA, he has had an impact on my life. Thank you for doing this.

KathyEldon21 karma

Truly honored by your comments and know Dan would be so utterly pleased.

fotograffer27 karma

When I was growing up and becoming interested in photography, my mom got a copy of The Journey is the Destination, and I remember going through it several times, engrossed in the application of Dan's photography and mixed media journalism. I bought a copy of the book myself when I went off to study photography in college, and it became a regular inspiration when the fine art aspect of my work became too static for me. I would never try to emulate the artwork from the book, but it was just like a breath of fresh air; proof that there was more I could do with my photography besides the cut-and-dry outline of the formality of photo school.

KathyEldon24 karma

I can only begin to imagine what Dan would have done with PhotoShop and the techniques available now. Thank you so much for your kind words. Please check out our latest book, "Safari as a Way of Life," written by Jennifer New, who also wrote, "Dan Eldon: The Art of Life." We are in the final stages of fundraising for a feature about Dan and his friends that, we hope, will bring his collages to a new generation.

PeterCHayward20 karma

What did you have for breakfast this morning?

KathyEldon58 karma

I made myself a cup of Yorkshire tea with a dash of milk in my favorite handmade mug together with yummy brown toast and a slice of really good cheese with Philip Leaky's homemade strawberry jam. Then, Alicia - who runs me - brought me a mocha!

KieranBurton19 karma

Thanks for the AMA, 21 years on, do you think Dan would still be shooting photography in a war zone or even campaigning for equal rights for everyone and so forth?

KathyEldon34 karma

Great question! I believe Dan was already moving on from his role as a war photographer because he was applying to film school at UCLA. I like to think that he would have been the filmmaker - he used the power of media to tell stories about issues that we need to address in the world. His close friends Christopher Nolan, "Inception," and Roko Belic, "Happy," are examples of two individuals who have used their talent to grapple with issues that can inform, inspire, and empower us to take positive action. Dan never believed in his talent as an artist and indeed, no one would have ever seen his journals, had we not discovered them and published them in 3 books - "The Journey is the Destination," "The Art of Life," and "Safari as a Way of Life" - so I'm not sure whether he would have pursued a career in art, but I'd like to believe that he would have been a global creative activist - leading the movement in person instead of as a spirit.

HahaAirplayright18 karma

Hi Kathy, thanks for your AMA. Would you ever consider traveling to Minneapolis home to the largest Somali population in north america and possibly doing a speaking engagement?

The civil war in Somalia was a horrid ordeal and am glad your son was brave enough to bring the issues to the forefront of the media through his career. Thanks for the AMA and will look into purchasing several copies of your work.

KathyEldon13 karma

I would come in a heart beat. Let's talk!

HahaAirplayright8 karma

Awesome we would love to host you. Can I contact you through the creative visions foundation.?

KathyEldon3 karma

This is wonderful! Please message me on the Creative Visions Foundation Facebook page and we will set something up -

JenSimmons17 karma

Hi Kathy! It is incredible how you turned a tragic personal event into a vehicle to enact change worldwide. Would you consider the Creative Visions Foundation an integral part of your own healing process? What is your advice to people who have suffered a great personal loss and want to use the wisdom from their experience to help others?

KathyEldon50 karma

I recommend that when we have suffered a great personal lost, that we start little. That you take the energy that you would put into the person whom you love so much and put it into something that you can nurture and grow just as you would have, that relationship. You can start with a plant - put it in a window box - and grow that plant. Talk to it! You can befriend a child, you can take on an older person, and as you are doing positive acts, celebrate the life of the person you've lost. I'm stopping here, because the word loss is somehow grating. I don't believe we really "loose" anyone. I believe the spirit is powerful and enduring and that in our own way, we can communicate with that spirit. We know how that person would react and respond and can derive wisdom from an ongoing conversation. I started very small, but over time, together with my daughter Amy, I was able to create projects that could touch others. We wrote "Angel Catcher," and "Angel Catcher for Kids" to help people going through loss - to find new meaning and purpose in their lives. We produced "Dying to Tell the Story," to celebrate journalists at risk, but launching the foundation in Dan's memory became the focal point for my life. Dan was the inspiration, but not the destination. The destination was the ongoing daily engagement with creative activists, people using arts and media to tell stories that need to be told about problems that need to be solved, and catalyze positive change in the world. Every day is a grand adventure at the Dan Eldon Center for Creative Activism in Malibu! We never know who is going to walk in or write to us, or even propose me going online to ask me anything! How scary is that!

Akspence16 karma

I was very touched about your honesty and raw emotion surrounding your divorce. How did you and Amy build such a close relationship after that split? As a daughter of divorce, it still holds much pain for me. How do you suggest for me to move on with a positive relationship with both my parents?

KathyEldon24 karma

What an important question. With our children, we tried to focus on the love that we had shared and our love for the children. My intention was to create another kind of loving with my former husband and we have achieved that. May I suggest that you set as a goal transforming the love that you remember, or that was the intention of their marriage in the first place, into acceptance and celebrating that which is good and true about both parents, but may not have been able to be expressed in that particular relationship. I believe that relationships are for a purpose, as hard as it is, sometimes they do not last for long. They may be fraught, but the lessons we learn from those intimate connections should serve to enable us to create workable relationships in the future. I deeply value and cherish my former husband, who is a continent away from me, and I am grateful for all that I learned with and from him. The separation and divorce was agony and afterwards, I probably relied too much on my 14-year-old daughter Amy, who joined me in London. I look back and marvel how strong she was when I felt so very sad. She's still my next door neighbor!

iseeaseaanemone16 karma

I admire you for being able to forgive your sons killers. That's a feat that seems impossible. In one of your stories I read, the Somali cab driver apologized on behalf of the people who killed your son, which I imagine helped pave the road to forgiveness. I had a verbally and physically abusive father and I struggle so much with forgiving him. He has never apologized and although he has mellowed out so much I can't just forge a bond because he's never acknowledged his actions.

So my question--do you think you would have arrived at the same point without the cab drivers apology? And how do you think anyone should go about forgiving another without any acknowledgment of wrongdoing? I feel petty for not being able to forgive my father when people like you are forgiving others for far worse. I really wish you the best and I will do my part in spreading awareness about CVF. Thank you!

KathyEldon15 karma

This is such an important question and so beautifully articulated. I had a discussion about the role of an abusive father and brother yesterday with a new friend while walking on the beach. My suggestion to her was to be aware of how abused those two souls must have been to have perpetrated the abuse on her. I have been studying about forgiveness for the last couple of years. Through the suggestion of Lyndon Harris I learned about Fred Luskin who has written extensively on what forgiveness is and isn't. His belief is that forgiveness is for us, not for the other person. it does not mean you forget what happened, nor do we not wish to seek justice where that is appropriate, but we release the emotion around the act. Forgiveness is for you - it makes you the hero not your victim.

With regard to your dad, the healing will be for you if you can release that emotion. It's quite a journey, but the outcome is worth it. Please watch the film "Beyond Right & Wrong" for examples of extraordinary acts of forgiveness from Israel and Palestine, Northern Ireland, and Rwanda for inspiration. Thank you again for sharing your story.

supercpa115 karma

Hi Kathy, thanks for doing this AMA. Dan was obviously a wonderful journalist who put his life on the line to capture a story that needed to be brought to the worlds attention. Do you think journalism today lives up to the standards that Dan had?

KathyEldon30 karma

Absolutely. There are pockets of outstanding journalism, including - I believe - BBC, Al Jazeera, and CNN International. Tragically, the resources that were poured into international stories by major American news agencies are not as great as they used to be and bureaus have been shut down across the world, but happily, citizen journalism is rising and with training, those journalists can fill in the gaps left by the departure of the major agencies. Right now, it may feel as though the world has never been in worse shape, but it's probably due to the fact that we've never had such an intimate and immediate view of global events as now because of the existence of the smart phone and our ability to document every single thing that happens around us. Watch Rob Tercek's TedXHollywood. I saw it this morning and it is really interesting about the role of media and smart phones in our world.

supercpa13 karma

Thanks, I will definitely have to check out TedXHollywood. I find it ironic that news media here in the US are pulling back on international stories given the now very global economy and impact of foreign political issues on domestic policy here in the US. Thanks again!

KathyEldon16 karma

I totally agree with you and the worst part of it is is that our American youth are not being exposed to global issues. In the past, CNN had a special news program, CNN News Room, that brought the news to classrooms across the country. How can we be educated global citizens if we don't know what's happening in the world around us?

evening_raga13 karma


KathyEldon22 karma

Thanks for asking! After Amy and I wrote the guided journal "Angel Catcher" to help people deal with grief, we tackled the issue of finding purpose in life and wrote "Soul Catcher: A Journal to Help You Become who You Really Are." Through a series of questions, you will be able to identify and work through the blockages to you finding your true purpose and it will help you find ways to work through those barriers, to hear the wisdom of your inner voice, and support you as you define your own true purpose and live the life of your choice. We created these books, and later, "Love Catcher" to bring more love into our lives, because of our own need to deal with grief and to find purpose, and to find wonderful mates - which we did!

blindtip12 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA. Can elaborate on more about you son's work?

P.s you are very brave

KathyEldon22 karma

I once read a book, "Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway," which helped me overcome my anxieties about doing what I feel is right. I may not always be right, but I try to be true to myself. That's really all any of us can do.

Dan was an ordinary kid with an extraordinary view of the world around him. This was shaped by the remarkable people he met in Kenya, where I was a journalist, working for The Nation Newspaper. He followed me as I interviewed creative, active nation builders in the early 80s. People who didn't necessarily ask permission, or even get the right permits, but individuals who launched organizations, projects, and manifested their visions that would change their world around them. These individuals are the inspiration for the concept "creative activism."

Dan went on to become the youngest photojournalist for Reuter's News Agency and his photos were published in magazines such as Newsweek, Time, and major publications around the world.

arrenlex9 karma

How did you feel when Dan first took the job? Was this his first dangerous assignment?

KathyEldon20 karma

Having been a journalist in Nairobi, Kenya with the Nation Newspaper, I was thrilled that Dan was able to communicate what was happening in Somalia. His photographs about the famine in Baidioa in 1991 triggered a global relief mission, Operation Restore Hope. I couldn't have been prouder.

Popensquat8 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA, Kathy. What's the best memory(ies) you have of your son?

KathyEldon41 karma

One of my favorite memories is strangely enough at a time that was my saddest. Dan had given me a tape of Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry" at the beginning of his short visit to London where I was staying alone. The night before he was to leave, he invited me out for an adventure. We drove into the center of London and went for a merry-go-round ride. After a slice of pizza, we headed back to the Picadilly Underground Station ("Subway"). As we went down the long escalator, we saw a Jamaican singer with dreads and realized that he was singing the song that meant so much to me. Dan tossed a five pound note in his hat and said, "Don't worry Mum, one day I promise you will be happy too." It took a while, but i can say, happiness - when it returned - was worth waiting for.

sagequeen7 karma

Would you share an example of how Creative Visions Foundation has helped journalists change the world?

KathyEldon6 karma

Creative Visions Foundation has focused on "creative activists" using media and the arts that tell stories to ignite action. Although we celebrate journalists and their work, we nurture currently 80 projects and productions, launched by artists and media makers who are not traditional journalists. We act as an incubator, agency and academy for projects as diverse as "Happy," "Give Up Tomorrow," "One Day on Earth," and The Advot Project - please check them out on our website! Some could be considered citizen journalism.

SuitedRIP6 karma

What is the 1 thing you would most like us to know about your son?

KathyEldon15 karma

Dan wrote a mission statement at the age of 19 which included the words "to see, with the eyes of a child," and I think that is a wonderful philosophy for all of us - to see the world anew, unclouded by cynicism and despair and to see possibilities and solutions and to know that transformation of ourselves, and the world around us, is ultimately due to the choices that we make. Dan wasn't perfect - at all. None of us are. But our individual actions collectively will ultimately be our salvation.

Ragaby5 karma

I'm sorry for your loss. Was Dan always into photography?

KathyEldon13 karma

Several years after Dan was killed, I did a talk called "The Gift of Grieving" and explored the goodness that flowed from something that at first I thought was only bad. Out of loss, I have gained so much empathy, compassion, depth, breadth, and width to my soul that I never could have imagined possible, an understanding of deep pain and the ability to experience supreme joy. Now about the other question - we gave Dan his first camera when he was 6 years old and his pictures were terrible! At the age of 12 or 13, he was exposed to the journals of Peter Beard, who was a friend of ours in Kenya, and realized how he could alter photographs that weren't great, create collages, that meant the assembled page was more important than the elements contained therein. It was only when he went to Somalia that he felt his photographs were any good at all, and that was as a result of being exposed on a daily basis to wonderful photographers and videographers like Mohamad Amin, Hansi Krauss, and Mohammad Shaffi - all of whom lost their lives while telling stories that needed to be told.

Mrgooday5 karma

Hi Kathy How long did it take for you to stop feeling depressed and what steps did you take to deal with this tragedy I. E. Therapy ? Etc

KathyEldon19 karma

Truthfully, 21 years later, I can still go into periods of sadness at the loss of my son Dan, but those periods are brief and I am not living in sorrow, but with a tremendous sense of joy at my ability to interact with people who have been, in some way, touched by my son. Right after Dan's death, I made a conscious decision to try and transform the loss of my son into something that was positive. In the beginning, I made a decision to adopt what I can "fairy godchildren" to fill the gap left by his vibrant spirit, and now I have many kids of all ages - grown up to little - who I have chosen as very special people in my life. Surrounding yourself with positive energy is the way to move through depression into peace. This is not an easy journey, and it took me years. My daughter Amy and I wrote a guided journal "Angel Catcher," and Amy wrote "Angel Catcher for Kids," which helps other people go through the stages of grieving that Elizabeth Kubler-Ross describes so eloquently. The process of writing that was healing for us, but we wrote that book 2 years after Dan was killed and we were still feeling tremendously sad. Truly, you will find joy again and you will find light at the end of the tunnel, and you will relate to people in a different way, going into a deeper place with those who have made a similar journey.

Commodore_Wiley5 karma

Thank you for the AMA, Kathy. Anytime I see work by photo-journalists in a war zone I can't help but think of how terrifying it would be in the middle of the chaos with nothing but a camera. Did Dan ever talk about how he was able to that and why he did it?

KathyEldon10 karma

After four or five months in Somalia, Dan described how the experiences had changed him. He felt protected when he had the camera in front of him, but when he was back in the dark room, he was confronted with the horrors that he had channeled through his lens. He said he was not sure where those memories were tucked away in his mind and spirit, but they came back to haunt him. The sight of a young Somali girl being prepared for burial - who looked exactly like his Somali girlfriend, Neema, the image of a mother and child killed by a single bullet, the glazed eyes of a starving man who had just buried his four children. These he captured in a slim book called "Somalia" that he published shortly before his death.

WhatWeDo3574 karma

What was your reaction when you received word that Dan had been killed?

KathyEldon22 karma

My instant reaction may sound very strange. After falling to the ground and pounding it, and tearing at the curtains in the hotel where I was staying, my rational brain told me that I had to wash my hair. That my life was about to change and I had to wash my hair. I remember tearing at my scalp - trying to feel the physical pain that might in some way dull the emotional anguish that I was experiencing.

ATCaver4 karma

Have you ever traveled to Somalia? If not, what countries have you been to, and which did you find the most interesting?

KathyEldon4 karma

When I was 14, my parents cashed in everything and took us on the "Grand Tour" to 11 countries, which included Moscow at the height of the Cold War, and Berlin, when the wall was going up. That experience, which transformed a naive Iowa kid into a global citizen, aware of the pain and unfairness that exists in the world, wetted my appetite for travel. I did return to Somalia with my daughter Amy to make a film, "Dying to Tell the Story," about journalists at risk - I spoke earlier about my experience there - and I probably traveled to 40 countries around the world. Right now, I feel like I need to explore America more, but I'm headed off to South Africa to shoot the film about Dan later this year. Honored that Kweku Mandela will be producing the film with us in South Africa. The film stars Douglas Booth.

Macsnight4 karma

Where is Desiree now?

KathyEldon3 karma

Glad you asked! Deziree is now a venerable 45-year-old working at the DEPOT, Dan Eldon Place of Tomorrow, which is overseen by Mike Eldon, Dan's dad. Deziree LA, who is equally a venerable grand dame, is parked in front of the Dan Eldon Center for Creative Activism in Malibu. Right now, she is undergoing a major facelift so we can transport a pop up Dan gallery and go on grand safaris!

some_random_kaluna3 karma

Hello, Ms. Eldon. Mahalo for doing this AMA. There's been some really great questions, and I'd like to ask you a professional one if it would be ok.

What kind of camera did your son take into the field? Anything expensive, cheap, durable, disposable?

KathyEldon3 karma

Dan worked with Canon and Nikon. It was 1993 and he was using state of the art cameras at that time.

EmmaThePhotographer2 karma

Hi! I am planning on being a foreign corespondent and photojournalist as well. What advice would you have for my parents knowing I'll be in potentially dangerous situations? How do they handle that? Thank you for what you do!

KathyEldon4 karma

There are wonderful courses that people like you can go on that can teach you how to prepare yourself to working in dangerous areas. The most important think to remember that no picture of story is worth your life. Your parents have done an amazing job raising you and have to trust that you will be wise in the decisions that you make and that you are following what your life purpose is.

chris_light0 karma

Kathy, wanted to thank you (again) for doing this. To those of us who knew your son, your work and the work of CVF has served without question to celebrate your son, what he accomplished, as well as attempt to address what he left undone. There was an ISK reunion event at the Kenyan Embassy in DC this week that I am sure that he would have enjoyed. My question would relate to any thoughts you might have on how to celebrate the loss of a loved one while ensuring that the grieving process doesn't become compromised or stuck at an unhealthy point? Any signs to watch for? Asante! (And I do look forward to reading your new book.)

KathyEldon1 karma

What a joy to hear from you Chris. When I speak about Dan, I'm really speaking about all of you, who were such alive and aware young people at the International School of Kenya, which was Dan's incubator. You are members of a "global tribe," almost oblivious to racial, cultural, and religious differences. You were the exemplars of the society that we all hope we are moving towards. Regarding the transformation of loss, it is a slow process, but every day we can seek to find a way to focus our energy on that which will bring us joy in the name of the person we have lost. We can start with a potted plant and nurture that plant. We can nurture a neighbor child or an elderly person. Start a project in the name of someone we love. Donate, volunteer, commit a positive act, and with each extension of ourselves will come healing and a sense of purpose and accomplishment that we know that being, whom we loved so much, would appreciate. Chris, you bring light into the world. Please tell everyone at the reunion how much I would have liked to have been there. Maybe you and I can Skype!

Akspence0 karma

Kathy, I feel at times like you in London pre Africa. Dreaming of a great adventure. Do you recommend moving to Africa? Visiting with my family? I want my boys and my family to have some incredible memories and get out of the suburban jungle. Any suggestions?

KathyEldon2 karma

I think Africa is a state of mind. It often represents the unknown, slightly edgy space where we can test ourselves and expand to achieve our true potential. You don't actually have to go to Africa to go on safari. I'd say you can stretch yourself and your boys by going off the beaten path, getting out of suburbia, and making every excursion, (ok that's a big stretch), an adventure.

Haaaahf-9 karma


KathyEldon1 karma

What a cheeky question! Age is just a number, but if you really want to know, read my memoir, which reveals absolutely everything - "In the Heart of Life"