Young photographer exposed Somalia's horrors
You may never have heard of Dan Eldon , but once you learn of him, you may never forget him.
In the summer of 1992, Eldon and a friend from the Philadelphia Inquirer set out from Kenya to the Somali town of Baidoa to see if there was any truth to a rumor of famine in the African nation.
What they found would, within about a year, transform a young man into an internationally renowned photojournalist and bring his short life to an end.
In Baidoa, Eldon and his friend photographed skeletal children, scores of dead babies and hundreds of starving men and women. The photographs were the first to document the devastation in Somalia. They made the covers of newspapers and magazines around the globe and served as an SOS to the world.
Within months, the International Red Cross determined that one-fourth of 6 million Somalis were starving. On August 28, the United States began delivering emergency food supplies to the nation. Attacks on relief efforts by Somalia's warring factions would lead to the arrival of international peacekeeping forces.
Eldon continued taking pictures and became such a popular figure among the Somalis that they dubbed him "Mayor of Mogadishu."
On July 12, 1993, U.N. troops bombed a house believed to be the headquarters for the warlord known as Gen. Mohammed Farah Aidid. Eldon, who had been retained as a free-lancer for Reuters nine months earlier, and three other journalists were dispatched to the scene to record the carnage.
They were met by an angry mob of more than 100 people who turned on the journalists who were trying to help them. Eldon and his friends were stoned to death by the crowd.
Dan Eldon was 22. He was expecting a Reuters photographer to arrive in Somalia that day to replace him.
Documenting his own life
Not long after Eldon's death, someone delivered a rucksack of his belongings to his family. In the sack was a journal, the 17th that Dan had written since he began keeping journals as a school assignment at age 14.
Eldon's family was very familiar with his journals. But this one was different, reflecting the profound change in his life since he first found the starving people of Somalia.
His first 16 journals were a collection of whimsical drawings, photographs he had drawn or written on, short sayings, collages, and tales of romantic encounters.
The journal he kept in Somalia was simple, and like his life, unfinished. It contained only photographs attached to pages.