Global Washington, a broad-based membership association that promotes and supports the international development sector in the state of Washington, recently featured Sean Dimond, Agros Communication Director, and the work of Agros in their monthly ‘Changemaker’ feature.
You can read the article at the Global Washington site, or read below:
Sean Dimond is a talented and compassionate man who has lived through past life-threatening circumstances to tell a story of beauty and compassion about a world where human dignity is more powerful than war and extreme poverty.
As the Director of Communications for Agros International, Sean has applied his diverse background in communications, philosophy, and media-arts to connect the people of the developed world with those suffering in the developing world.
“Agros not only teaches the poor how to fish, but also enables them to own the pond.”
Throughout Central America, rural people have suffered from decades of armed conflict and extreme poverty. Many of these families have been forgotten and left for dead. In most of the developing world, and in Central America specifically, the rural poor depend on land for basic survival. If rural families are able to access their own farmable land, this can create a foundation for food, a secure home, and a path of progress. This is where Seattle-based Agros International comes into the picture.
Agros’ development approach takes into account that while single interventions (such as microcredit or vaccines) are important, in order to sustainably alleviate poverty it is critical to take a holistic approach, or as Agros calls it, “360 Development.”
Agros is focused on the long-term alleviation of poverty for entire rural communities by extending long-term loans to purchase farmland, and then partnering with families in applying sustainable agricultural and community development practices. The goal is to empower families to create, develop, and own a thriving, sustainable village.
In summary, Agros does not reduce the causes or solutions of poverty to just the individual, but instead works to alleviate poverty horizontally across an entire community, and vertically so this impact affects future generations.
Rather than build programs based on merely “fixing problems”, Agros seeks to invest in the dreams and values of poor, believing that they have the essential dignity and capacity to work their own way out of poverty.
“Rural poverty is not a statistic. It is a face, a family, a community. And if you first listen and then seek to enable the dreams of the poor themselves, you will be amazed by what they can accomplish,” Sean says.
Sean seems to be destined for international communications. His grandfather was Cherokee Indian and through his legacy Sean developed a passion for rural indigenous people. Having lived in 8 states and 22 cities, and with many opportunities to travel internationally, Sean has a keen sense of inter-connectedness in the world. What’s more, he was influenced by the arts and good communicators and developed a skill for communicating through media. The specific platform for his media skills would end up being decided by fate.
“These families don’t need charity handouts, they need opportunity”
Previous to his work at Agros, Sean owned a creative media firm called “untamed.be” that provided media and marketing communication services to Fortune 500 companies and international NGOs. His success took a turn for the worse when he was later diagnosed with cancer and was forced to close his business. As he struggled through cancer treatment, he continued to pursue one of his passions—music composition. Agros heard about him and hired him to write a score of music for their first promotional video. Sean said that even though this request came during a hard time, he could not say no, “Agros was simply one of a kind.”
After his cancer treatment Sean decided not to go back to his firm, but instead decided to look for work with an international NGO. It was truly serendipitous that at the same time Agros began to look for a Communications Director.
Since the start of his full-time employment with Agros four years ago, Sean has worked to create new fundraising platforms, increase partner engagement, and expand Agros’ visibility through multiple channels. Serving on Agros’ Executive Leadership Team, Sean believes good communications must be driven by an organizations’ strategic plan. With this in mind, he has been able to build a strong communication system for Agros that would tell stories words alone could not accomplish.
“Agros has helped us see our face”
Sean recalls one of his first experiences abroad with Agros: in the mountains of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, in the village of El Eden. It was there during a video interview that he asked a villager to describe Agros in just one word. This villager said, “I would describe Agros as a mirror. Agros has helped us to see our face; they have helped us see that we have dignity. They have helped us to see that we matter.” Sean says it is encounters like this that get him out of bed every morning, focused to help these people help themselves.
“You do a disservice when you oversimplify the complexity of global poverty”
Sean believes that “we live in a unique time in human history—the struggles we face globally have a great deal to do with questions of sustainability, whether it is about food or the environment or basic security–and in an increasingly inter-connected world I feel the work of Agros is especially important.”
Sean asserts that the unique, sustainable solutions such as those practiced by Agros are critical for this global challenge. In addition, he does not think of other organizations in the global development sector as competitors. Agros is one important contributor within the global development field, but so are other organizations in their own way. Sean sees his primary competitor as “ ‘the apathy and resignation’ that exists in the general culture; the sense that nothing will ever change”. Sean believes that lasting change to complex problems is possible, “because here at Agros I get the privilege of seeing it happen every day.”
Furthermore, Sean also believes that connecting with other organizations is critical in this work, and that only by doing so can we learn from each other. It is for this reason that Sean really values Global Washington’s ability to convene the development sector in Washington State, and is excited for Global WA to reach their full potential.
For more information about Agros and how its dedicated people are working to make a difference in the world visit: http://www.agros.org/
Submitted by Luke Mohr for Global Washington