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Kathy Eldon overcame tragedy by helping others tackle challenges

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Kathy gave birth to Dan in 1970, and a daughter, Amy, in 1974. Frustrated because so few jobs were open to women in her chosen fields of TV and publishing, Kathy turned to writing children's books.

When Dan was 7 and Amy was 4, Mike's company transferred him to Nairobi, Kenya. "Moving to Africa transformed me," Eldon says. "That was when my life exploded into a Technicolor dream." She worked for famed anthropologist Richard Leakey and his brother Philip, while her children went to an international school.

Eldon kept writing, everything from guidebooks to cookbooks. She also worked as a journalist and in other jobs, absorbing a lesson that has served her well. "People in Kenya were 'creative activists,' " she says. That meant "you didn't wait for other people to approve. You just did it."

That no-limits attitude sank in with her children, especially Dan.

Kathy and Mike eventually divorced. Dan, then a teenager, stayed in Kenya with his dad, while Amy and her mother returned to London. Broke and depressed, and after a period of prayer and reflection, Eldon awoke one morning and announced, "I had a dream I should start a company called Creative Visions." She knew she had found her calling: to use media to bring about social change.

Soon she found herself sitting with Harry Percy, the Duke of Northumberland, in Syon House, "one of the most stately houses in Britain," she explains. Together, her production company and the duke's went on to coproduce "Lost in Africa," a feature film about elephant poaching.

Then, suddenly, life went upside down.

In July 1993, Eldon received a phone call: Her photojournalist son, Dan, had been killed, stoned by a mob in Somalia while on assignment for Reuters. He was 22 years old.

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