“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

December 19, 2019

Nigeria is a shitty place for those who live here, many seek an escape route. But, amid the insecurities, bad economy, and the uncaring government, some things happened this year that make us feel thankful. Yeah, we know, hard to believe right? Yet we need to end the year on a positive note, so here are some […]

October 25, 2020

Nigeria’s youth unemployment is growing. But on October 22nd, 2020, in his highly anticipated broadcast to the nation, the president mentioned that his administration had put in place a lot of programs to help Nigerian youths, including Tradermoni, Farmermoni, Npower and so many other social investment programs. We decided to look at the unemployment data […]

October 13, 2020

Earlier this evening, the Inspector General of Police, through the Force Public Relations Officer, stated that the members of the disbanded SARS are to report for psychological evaluation at the Force Headquarters before being deployed to other Police units. He also stated that there will be a creation of a new Special Weapons and Tactical […]

October 9, 2020

As Nigerians everywhere are pouring out and speaking against years of SARS oppression, harassment and brutality, it is baffling that the President of Nigeria and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces haven’t so much as said anything about the unfolding event. This hasn’t gone unnoticed, and as #EndSARS and similar hashtags are gaining traction […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

May 14, 2021

Bolanle Austen-Peters Production, in collaboration with the MTN Foundation, is bringing the story and characters of Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman to the Terra Kulture stage on May 13 to 16 in eight performances. The story, which is inspired by true events, is about a king’s horseman who is prevented from committing ritual […]

May 14, 2021

Spiderman has been seen doing a ton of questionable things on the TL lately — dancing at parties for food, twerking for coins and passing out at nightclubs. We can’t tell if it’s the economy or he took the wrong covid vaccine, but something is seriously wrong with that man. So, inspired by these shenanigans, […]

The Worst Thing A Friend Has Done
May 14, 2021

Friendships can be tricky. Sometimes, friends hurt each other and it’s hard to get past that. In this article, we asked seven Nigerian women to share the worst thing a friend has done to them.  Ibinabo, 24 I had this roommate when I was doing my diploma in Ibadan. I was a new student but […]

Recommended Quizzes

November 22, 2019

It can be very stressful when you’re trying to find the love of your life, but you only keep meeting people that are exactly like your yeye ex. To help you be more aware of that problem, we’ve created a quiz that lets you know the kind of people you are attracting. Take it to […]

April 3, 2020

While the rest of the world loves to treat our continent like a country, there are actually 54 African countries. So, in a bid to test your knowledge (and educate you), we’ve created a quiz to see how many of their capitals you can correctly name. Go ahead:

November 7, 2019

These days, everyone is always talking about how much sex they’re getting, or how little sex they’re getting, or how disgusting sex is etc. There’s just so much talk about sex, it’s almost impossible to know who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. In anticipation of our new series about the sex lives of young […]

More from Citizen

May 4, 2021

What Is #Greenfielduniversity about? On April 20, 2020, 22 students and one staff member of Greenfield University, Kaduna state, were kidnapped by unidentified bandits, in what has been a recent spike in cases of abduction and killings in the country. On April 23, three days after this incident, three of those students were killed, with […]

April 30, 2021

The subject of today’s #AbroadLife is a 22-year-old man who left Nigeria immediately after secondary school. He talks about  being lonely in Canada and why he wants to come back home but can’t just yet.  When did you decide that you wanted to leave Nigeria? I didn’t make the decision. My parents made the decision […]

April 2, 2021

Today’s subject on Abroad Life started her process to leave Nigeria for the USA for school in 2017 and didn’t leave until two months ago. She talks about how money, COVID and visa problems delayed her travel plans. She also talks about arriving in the USA in the middle of a polar vortex and having […]

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