“Angels Among Us” Is The Good News You Need This Week, Despite The Coronavirus

April 9, 2020

Imagine you were working in digital communications until you lost your job in late 2019.

After losing your job, your wife delivers a baby. Complications from the delivery puts your family in a bad financial situation. You had to empty the family savings to pull through. Early this year, you start to drive Uber/Taxify to make ends meet. Your wife also starts a fashion outfit to support household income. 

Then comes the coronavirus and the whole economy stops. You have to stop driving and your wife closes the shop because everyone has to stay at home. This lack of daily income further worsens your already bad financial situation. In all of this, there’s a baby that needs to be fed.

This is the true-life story of one of the many Nigerians affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus has paralysed economic activities in Nigeria resulting in the shut down of many businesses. This is as a result of a Government-ordered lockdown in two major cities — Abuja and Lagos — as part of its efforts to slow down the coronavirus. The implication of this is that many Nigerians, who live hand-to-mouth and rely on daily income, have suddenly found themselves in scary financial conditions.

Their only hope right now is that they receive a donation from an Angel. Not a real-life Angel but one of the many Angels who are willing to help on the Angels Among Us website.

Individuals and organisations have organised relief drives to help some of the people affected by the lockdown. This drive usually involves fundraising, buying of food, and distribution to those in need. Inspired by a need to also help out, the Angels Among Us idea was born. 

What makes the Angels Among Us different is that it removes the need for a middle man who raises funds and distributes. Instead, it connects the helper directly with the person in need. Justin Irabor, the creator, says he chose this model because while looking for a way to help Nigerians during this crisis, he favoured a model that wasn’t limited by his personal time and capacity to disburse. That is how much time he had to spare to collect and share funds. “I wanted a solution beyond my personal limitations: an infinite pool of people helping an infinite amount of people without needing a middle man to drive the process,” he said. 

Justin Irabor.

When asked about the idea behind the name, Justin said: “I was inspired by the idea of supernatural beings living like human beings; taking danfo to work and back, eating, and doing regular stuff. So, after cycling through several names, I settled on Angels Among Us – because it brought back that image of regular people ascending to the status of angels as they helped people who didn’t even know them.” 

Nigeria is a low trust society where people are raised to be wary of each other because everyone wants to get ahead of the other person. To prevent fraud and to increase trust, there’s a photo verification section. People who need help share a photo of themselves holding a piece of paper with their name and account details on it. And while he knows that this can be gamed, “most people don’t game it because they understand the binding principle here – honesty from the asker attracts kindness from the giver,” he said.

In addition, they also verify that the name in the photo matches the bank account name supplied. There are also phone calls to people seeking help to get more context and verify more details. This process he says is handled by a network of volunteers (nicknamed ‘archangels’) working tirelessly. While they have verified a few hundred people so far, not everyone passes their process.

“Very soon, there are plans to implement BVN verification through an established payment service provider and this will add another layer of security to the program,” he said.

There are also plans to explore other methods of payment for people who do not have bank accounts. Work is ongoing to create a platform that can handle multiple payment types like Paga, O-pay, etc. But this may take a while.

The best part of this project for him, has been discovering the kindness of people. He admits to being cynical by default so the kindness of people has been positively overwhelming. “Being able to write the software for this cause has also been satisfying,” he added.  

“The reason I do interviews with publications like Zikoko is to encourage people to use the platform by building trust,” he said. “To increase transparency, I have also made myself more publicly accessible for questioning. There is also a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page angelsamong.us/faq that addresses this skepticism. Furthermore, the team is setting up a communications unit (made up of volunteers) who will start sending reports and updates on what’s happening internally. We want to ensure accountability.” 

In the age where social distancing is the rule, Justin understands something fundamental; If Nigerians hope to beat this illness, then we must band together and pull resources. This is because the effects of the virus on the economy are more familiar to many Nigerians than the novel virus itself. His ultimate aim is “to ensure that helping anyone affected by this pandemic is as easy as clicking a button.”


If you would like to be a part of this initiative, you can either choose to donate by clicking here. Or by sharing this article with someone that can help. 

Together, we can beat this!

Hassan Yahaya

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

July 30, 2021

The subject of today’s Abroad life is a 35-year-old man who has lived many lives. He talks about being rejected three times by the US embassy, the bad state of the Nigerian education system, and how freelancing paid for his japa.  When did you decide that you wanted to leave Nigeria? I’d always passively wanted […]

March 26, 2020

2020 has been a supremely shitty year so far, with the Coronavirus basically stopping the world in its tracks. So, in a bid to find some much-needed laughter, we’ve gathered some of the best @yung.nollywood memes that describe how we are all feeling right now. 1. This meme that aged like fried rice: View this […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

September 16, 2021

International advocacy organization, Global Citizen, has revealed the local hosts TV personalities Ebuka Obi-Uchendu and Nancy Isime for the Global Citizen Live event in Lagos, Nigeria. Pan-African broadcast partners are AIM Group, MultiChoice and The SABC. Performances from Lagos will be given by Tiwa Savage, Davido, Femi Kuti and Made Kuti, among others. Burna Boy […]

open grazing
September 16, 2021

In Nigeria, up to 2,000 people die every year due to deadly clashes between farmers and cattle herders over rights to openly and freely graze, and the clashes made about 62,000 people homeless between 2015 and 2017.

In reaction, southern states in Nigeria are passing anti-open grazing laws. But what do they mean?

Recommended Quizzes

how much of an ajebutter
February 12, 2020

Are you an ajebutter or not? Well, if you’ve gone through life blissfully unaware of its harshness, then you probably are. Now, we want to know just how high you rank on that ajebutter scale, using your food preferences as a (very accurate) measure. Take to find out:

how tall are you
March 11, 2020

Did your parents give you enough beans when you were growing up? If they did, then you’re probably around 6’0″ and above. Either way, we created a quiz that can guess your current height (pretty accurately, if we do say so ourselves). Take to see if we nailed it:

March 24, 2020

While we know that a lot of the best Nigerian artists deservedly have fans across generations, that won’t stop us from attempting to guess how old you are based on your taste in Nigerian music. So, take this quiz to see if we got it right:

November 11, 2019

Today, we are going to be using your taste in music to determine how good you actually are in bed. All you need to do is create the ultimate Nigerian hit — from the lead artist to the producer — and we’ll tell you if all your partners leave satisfied, or if you are just […]

January 2, 2020

Do you have even a single romantic bone in your body? Well, if you’re not sure about just how sweet and thoughtful you can be to someone you love, that’s what this quiz is here to answer. 11 Quizzes For Nigerians Who Are Ready To Marry  Are you ready to marry? Take these quizzes.

More from Citizen

open grazing
September 16, 2021

In Nigeria, up to 2,000 people die every year due to deadly clashes between farmers and cattle herders over rights to openly and freely graze, and the clashes made about 62,000 people homeless between 2015 and 2017.

In reaction, southern states in Nigeria are passing anti-open grazing laws. But what do they mean?

Rivers VAT
September 14, 2021

Rivers State generated ₦15 billion from VAT in June 2021, but only got ₦4.7 billion, whereas Kano State generated ₦2.8 billion naira from VAT in June 2021 and got the same ₦2.8 billion naira it made.

This is allyou need to know about the VAT crises:

Nigeria Doctors
September 2, 2021

If you live in Nigeria then you have to be careful because three things can strike at any time — thunder, “ASUU” or doctors. Presently, all three of them are in action: It’s the rainy season in Nigeria so of course thunder is present, lecturers under the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are already […]

August 27, 2021

On August 14, 2021, unknown armed individuals attacked a convoy of five buses and killed at least 22 travellers along Rukuba Road in Jos North Local Government. According to multiple reports, the victims were returning to Ondo State after attending an Islamic festival in Bauchi state. Reports also say that another 23 people were injured, […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X