Farewell JOA - Luke Tumelty, our eighth programme associate, reflects on his time at JOA

17 November 2023
Luke Tumelty, our eighth programme associate, will soon be leaving the JOA office to embark on the next stage of his internship with HelpAge International. Luke shares his thoughts on the six months he's spent with the JOA team in Jersey.

I feel incredibly sad to be leaving such a lovely and supportive team but lucky to have had this chance to be a part of it for six months and even luckier because if I'd done this internship a few years back I'd have only got two months in Jersey. Between all the jokes and (vegan) sausage rolls, I've been exposed to an environment which is respectful, nurturing and never forgetful of the gravity of the work that we do, which leads to a constant drive to do the best work possible. Being here has reinforced for me even further how important it is not to take what we have in Jersey for granted and to continue to advocate for others around the world who don't have the means to live a fulfilling life that we have in such abundance here.

I've learnt so much about how the international development and humanitarian sectors operate and an invaluable insight into how donor organisations work, what motivates them and the constraints they work under, which are all crucial factors in donor-partner relations. To have this exposure before I go on to work with a partner organisation has obvious benefits and is another reason why this internship is such an amazing opportunity and I encourage anyone who is even remotely curious to keep your eyes peeled for the next recruitment announcement and apply.

Whilst here I've assisted on proposals and scoping exercises to contribute to the rapid delivery of aid to some of the worst humanitarian situations imaginable including the horrific conflicts that have affected Sudan and the occupied Palestinian territories this year and the natural disasters which have devastated communities in Libya, Myanmar, Morrocco and beyond. Seeing the impact of Storm Ciarán on our island and how much suffering it caused put into perspective what it must have been like for those affected by Tropical Cyclone Freddy this year, whose force was 50 times greater than Storm Ciarán. Reading the reports from our partners in Malawi whose projects had been affected I could sense the same kind of solidarity and community spirit that can be seen here in Jersey. 

I have also had several opportunities to develop my skills and understanding in areas related to the sector through online training. I've completed internationally recognised courses including a project management course for NGOs as well as a number of modules available through the Humanitarian Leadership Academy. Most recently I completed 'Engaging communities for collective action' which gave me more of an insight into the complexities of mobilising communities around a common goal, and how much can be achieved when communities are truly empowered to make their own decisions, rather than having poorly planned development projects imposed on them from the top down.

This role is ideal for people who are keen to travel and see more of the world, I've been lucky enough already to visit Rwanda on a teaching exchange programme with Hands Around the World Jersey - which you can read more about here. More recently I was in Chişinău, Moldova for an away week with HelpAge who I will be working with in the next phase of my placement. We met with local organisations working on a wide variety of age-focused projects including the Ukrainian refugee humanitarian response, initiatives aimed at tackling Gender Based Violence and digital inclusion schemes where older people were paired up with volunteers who could assist them with using technology as well as being a friend to chat and socialise with.

In October we teamed up with Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust for the 'Biodiversity Conservation and Rural Livelihoods: A Shared Future' conference in London. This was a chance for me to meet and hear from practitioners from a wide range of organisations from all over the world who were united by the shared goal of allowing both people and nature to thrive. Although it was just a two day conference it was packed with fascinating presentations and panel discussions on some of the key challenges facing our sector and how we can collaborate to overcome them. There was even time for a workshop on 'artivism' which has inspired me to start drawing again for probably the first time since my school days. Attending this event reaffirmed for me just how many opportunities are out there for me to continue doing what I feel passionate about after this internship if I know where to look. Thanks to this event, and all the exposure I've had throughout my time at JOA, I now have a long list of potential organisations to look at when my time here comes to an end.