News / USA

Brief Singular Life Inspires Creative Activists

Born to an American mother and a British father, Dan Eldon spent most of his life in Africa, which he considered home. He also died there, while working as a photojournalist for Reuters.
Born to an American mother and a British father, Dan Eldon spent most of his life in Africa, which he considered home. He also died there, while working as a photojournalist for Reuters.

Multimedia

Audio
Faiza Elmasry

Artist, activist and photojournalist Dan Eldon lived a short, yet full, life expressing himself through photos, drawings and journals. He died almost two decades ago, at age 22, covering a story he believed was important for the world to know about.

As a teenager, Eldon combined his passion for art, activism and adventure into a personal philosophy he called, "Safari as a Way of Life."

Eldon's special brand of creative activism has inspired a school curriculum, books, a TV documentary and a nonprofit devoted to motivating others who share his vision.

Providing inspiration

He grew up with a unique outlook on life, according to his mother, recalling his childhood in Africa.

“I was a journalist in Kenya, but my husband was running a computer company. We moved there when Dan was seven and his little sister was three. Dan was able to experience people and a way of life that most children are not privileged to experience," Kathy Eldon says. "He watched very creative, active people in action and Dan took on those qualities of activism and compassion.”

Writer Jennifer New never met Dan, but she came to know him through his journals and the dozens of interviews she’s done with his family and friends. New developed a high school curriculum based on Dan’s interests in art, journalism and African studies, and authored two books featuring his photos, paintings, collages and journals.

“He was an extremely curious person, more curious than a lot of people his age. He was this amazing artist,” she says. “He had this charming ability to raise money from a very young age.”

Activism and compassion

At age 14, New says, Dan and his sister raised money to pay for a young Kenyan girl's heart surgery. As a 19-year-old college student in California, he raised $20,000 to help refugees in Malawi.

“They decided they wanted to personally deliver the money to the refugee camp and there ended up being 14 of them, all teenagers except for one person who had just turned 20," New says. "They’re from six different countries of origin. A lot of them hadn’t even met each other. They all land in Kenya and meet at Dan’s father’s house. They’ve got two Land Rovers and they’ve got all this cash and they take off on this crazy, crazy road trip.”

In 1992, the Reuters news agency hired Eldon as a photojournalist to investigate rumors of a famine in Somalia. His photos appeared in Time and Newsweek as well as other magazines and newspapers around the world. When violence broke out in Somalia the next year, Kathy Eldon called her son and asked him to come home.

“Dan said, ‘Mom, don’t ask me to leave please, the story isn’t over,’" she remembers. "I said, ‘I love you so much and I’m proud of you.’ He and I agreed to see each other in two weeks.”

She never saw him alive again.

“A week later, my son, together with three other journalists, was beaten and stoned to death while trying to cover a story," Kathy Eldon says. "I know that a part of me died with Dan, as happens with parents who lose children.”

Positive action

To transform her grief into positive action, Kathy Eldon and her daughter, Amy, founded a non-profit.

“We created Creative Visions Foundation dedicated to supporting what we call creative activists, people who use media and the arts for good.”

Since 2001, Creative Visions Foundation has worked with 90 grassroots activists to create films, books, exhibits and social movements. One of those activists is 24-year-old Jessica Mayberry.

“Jessica wanted to go to India and teach basically illiterate Indian women how to use video to tell stories that were important about their lives. And over the years her organization, Video Volunteers, has become the largest producers of community-based videos in India.”

Filmmaker Roko Belic has been supported by Creative Visions Foundation for almost 10 years. His most recent project is a documentary called "Happy."

“I interviewed a lot of scientists who have been studying happiness," says Belic. "And I went around the world to 14 countries to shoot stories of people whose lives illustrate some of these findings of the scientists."

Belic actually knew Eldon. He was one of the teenagers who accompanied him on that 1989 trip to the Malawi refugee camp.

“I feel that we are all creative. It can be extremely rewarding to do things that you feel having a positive impact as I feel with the projects I’ve worked on so far.”

Belic says he tries to do through his projects, what that trip to Malawi with Eldon did for him - inspire young people to use their creativity to improve the world around them.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid