graphic celebrating humanity road fifth year anniversary

Volunteer Spotlight: Yogita Firoda

While all of Humanity Road’s volunteers work hard to save lives, some of us have uniquely awesome humanitarian stories to share. In the monthly Volunteer Spotlight, you’ll hear some more about Humanity Road’s best!


Yogita Firoda just joined HR during the Nepal quake, but she quickly got hard at work sorting out disaster info that helped save Nepali lives. An ordinary Indian who works in IT, she stepped up and joined us and Kathmandu Living Labs at the right moment to help.






First, tell us (readers) about yourself, and what you’ve done day-to-day at HR.

I started with HR in April… so fairly new with HR. It all started with the Nepal earthquake. I have been involved with crisismapping. Generally, that means trawling the social media and identifying calls for help – logging them into the quakemap, verifying contacts and location, helping with statistics from the crisismap, updating status, etc.

I also sometimes followed up with reporters to verify the status of crisis points, and helped with some training of new volunteers who joined with Nepal efforts

So, how did you get started with Humanity Road?

When the Nepal incident happened – I was trying to help raise funds and resources, to send to a village in Rasuwa (a hard-hit Nepal district.) In an online article, I came across a reference to Humanity Road and the work they do. So I applied to volunteer, hoping to get involved with some disaster response & help in the future. Luckily for me, HR needed some urgent volunteers for the weekends, to help with urgent needs. And there I was, working with them before I got any introductions or training.

Thrown right into the deep end, eh?

Yes 🙂 And I worked, like, 4 hours each day (half a working day!)

Props for your sheer dedication. What was it like working the Nepal disaster? How did you directly help? It must’ve been a massive workload and experience.

Yes, and I was working with a big team… I think there were 40+ volunteers at one point! It was a bit overwhelming in the beginning, and you want to help everyone.  But HR quickly established a team structure – so we knew exactly what needed to be done, and how it would flow from one point to other.

HR helped local group Kathmandu Living Labs. Daily reports would be pulled out, and the Nepal army would act on them. KLL had ground staff – who would verify disaster reports, make calls, monitor SMS, verify needs, etc. This helped keep location and need information up-to-date. Which, in turn, made it easier for the army & distribution agencies to distribute aid.

We also sometimes helped with calls, and with social media followups via tweets and FB to get more accurate details about contacts, needs & locations.

Knowing that every action got a result gave me a big boost.

What kept you going? What’s your humanitarian philosophy?

Frankly, no philosophy…

Natural disasters happen too often now-a-days, but the max I had done so far was donate funds or other needs.

I’d used work, personal life, Bangalore traffic, etc. as excuses for not donating my time to relief efforts.

However, when I came across HR and the organized work they do, and the difference it can really make I jumped into it in spite of all excuses, and the personal satisfaction helps keep me going.

It’s quite rewarding to know that you can take some from your day to help someone, somewhere. Especially when they need it the most.

Anything else you’d like to mention about your work with HR that we haven’t covered?

It’s great to work & interact with people from across the globe and with varied backgrounds… got introduced to Binford for instance!

Nota bene: Binford™ products are fictional, and are a running gag in our internal Skype chat.

I also like the way it is mostly so self-driven! A lesson to take back to the IT world …. (we have large teams, team managers, and directors… 🙂 )

And we use simple technologies, like Skype, Google Docs etc., quite effectively.

Again, I come from a software-company background – we spend lots of resources, time & money into building fancy tools, security etc.

Nice to know you’ve gotten something out of HR that you can apply to your day-to-day job.

Yes… you’re always learning. 🙂 And I believe if the learning stops … the moving stops …  the yearning stops.. and then it’s downhill!

True. A good way to avoid burnout.

Yes, that too!

Anything you would say to someone who’s considering volunteering for HR? Why is it a fulfilling cause?

If someone is seriously considering volunteering – I would say HR is the place.

What makes us stand out?

Mostly because it’s organized so that everyone can contribute to his/her areas of interest/expertise, and work whenever they’re free. The atmosphere is so genuine and fresh (even though it’s mostly just in Skype windows), and there are always such positive vibes even on grim days.

And of course, it’s such a genuine place to volunteer!

Also, there are always thoughts and plans on how to make things better. Like testing tools, partnering plans, etc. So there is not a dull moment!

Thanks! Alright, unless you have anything else to add, that should be all.

Ah, gr8! Whew!

Thanks for sticking with it. Have a good day!

Thanks a lot! Nice talking with you!

Have a good day too!

You’re welcome!

Yogita is just another person who wanted to help earthquake-ravaged Nepal. And help she has! By managing KLL’s seven bazillion case reports, she helped direct aid to the right earthquake-shattered villages, and probably saved Nepali lives.

Until next time, and our next volunteer’s story!Joshua Nelson

Joshua Nelson is a freelance copywriter from Virginia, writing pro-bono for HR. Literary champion of JUSTICE! (and stuff) by day, creative nerd by night (and also sometimes day.) To learn more, visit him at his website.


graphic celebrating humanity road fifth year anniversary

Volunteer Spotlight: Yakubu H. Yakubu

Guest Post by Joshua Nelson

While all of Humanity Road’s volunteers work hard to save lives, some of us have uniquely awesome humanitarian stories to share. In this monthly Volunteer Spotlight, you’ll hear about Humanity Road’s best!

Ghana is a country beset by poverty, internal turmoil, and displaced refugees. But local nurse Yakubu H.Yakubu isn’t content just to found and run a Citizens’ Emergency Response Team of direct-response volunteers, battling various local crises. No, he’s also been a Humanity Road online volunteer since 2011!

First, just tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.

I am Yakubu H.Yakubu, a Registered Nurse from Ghana. I live in Tamale, the northern region of Ghana.

I am the Founder and Executive Director for Community Emergency Response Team Ghana. We are a local NGO that trains community volunteers in first aid skills, CPR, search-and-rescue techniques, small fire suppression, and community public health education (like on cholera and other communicable diseases.) As a cross-cutting issue (with Humanity Road), we give free medical aid and treatment to disaster victims, and help with post-disaster management and medical rehabilitation.

How did you get in touch with Humanity Road? How long have you worked with HR?

I think I got in touch with Humanity Road around 2011. I was actually first introduced to Crisis Commons, then I think I met (HR) President Chris, introducing me to Humanity Road. I have been with them since. It’s an amazing experience; we can actually sit in the comfort of our homes and save lives and connect people with the help they need during emerging disasters. It’s been great all these years.

Can you tell us a story about an important HR event, disaster or otherwise, which you were involved with?

In Haiti, when the heart-breaking event (2010 earthquake) happened, HR continued to report emerging events. They connected most survivors with emergency technicians on the ground. Several days into the quake, they managed to reunite a baby with its family. It was great to be part of a community that would not stop reporting until all those who needed help got it.

Humanity Road volunteers are people with such BIG HEARTS.  In fact, they possess the heart of the WORLD. It was no surprise that the White House recognized their contribution and invited volunteers to a visit.

How did you personally participate?

I took part in the reportage, through tweets and other social media posts.

How does your work with Humanity Road combine with your work with the Ghana CERT?

It’s been pretty great. While HR responds to disaster digitally, CERT-GHANA responds to disasters at the scene (in local Ghanaian communities.) Of course, in the world of today, we need social media to propagate our work and to galvanize support. With Humanity Road, I have gained experience in using social media tools to educate my community, particularly about public health. I learnt a lot from HR about how to organize my tweets and work-related social media. A lot more people were interested in supporting our (CERT) course after having seen our tweet or Facebook post.

Humanity Road has always been of help. They donated a laptop and CERT pins for our office use. Humanity Road has offered self-directed leadership and mentorship training for volunteers. This has helped me a lot.

Is there anything else you’d like to add, something that you’d really like to say about your work with HR, that we haven’t covered yet?

I think it’s been great working with Humanity Road. It’s good being around Big Hearts. I don’t regret knowing this organization. I appreciate their support for my organization for donating a laptop and CERT pins for my volunteers.

What would you say to encourage anyone who’s thinking about volunteering for Humanity Road?

If you are thinking of volunteering in areas like disaster response, don’t hesitate to join! Humanity Road is a family where you are listened to when you need help. It’s a place where your effort is recognized. It’s good to volunteer for Humanity Road.

Well then, unless you’ve got anything more to add, I think that about wraps it up.

I am grateful for this time with you! Thank you!!! Azonto for you!!!

Thank you for taking the time out of your certainly-busy schedule to have this interview. Goodbye, and best wishes!

Now that’s a multi-tasker! Mr. Yakubu knows what it’s like to respond to disasters firsthand with his CERT, while Humanity Road’s volunteers support them online. He serves both his country and the world (and ethnic dance culture!)

Until next time, and our next volunteer story!

To volunteer for Humanity Road, visit our online volunteer center! Don’t have time to volunteer? Become a supporter by making a donation! If you want to join a CERT effort closer to home, and help first responders in your community, contact your local CERT today!

Joshua Nelson


Joshua Nelson is a freelance copywriter from Virginia, writing pro-bono for Humanity Road. Literary champion of JUSTICE! (and stuff) by day, creative nerd by night. You can learn more about Joshua by visiting his website.