“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!

You'll like this

September 30, 2019

It takes a lot to surprise the average Nigerian. Honourable senators breaking into fights on TV? Routine. The president announcing that he’s journeying abroad for healthcare inaccessible to the regular guy on the street? Irritated, but not surprised. But every time word gets out, of a policeman assaulting a citizen for using an iPhone, or […]

March 2, 2020

It has finally happened. The devil has seen how much Nigerians have been downloading with office wi-fi and just what they’re downloading (rhymes with corn) and has decided to give us a little testing-testing of hell. But will we let him win? Not today? We’re not too sure how these will hold up, but if […]

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 […]

Hassan Yahaya

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

Watch

Now on Zikoko

October 19, 2020

1. Food If you don’t have groceries at home, I don’t know what to tell you. With everything going on, it might be a little difficult or even near impossible to order food from restaurants. But hey, na who dey alive dey order food. 2. Data We’ve all seen how social media has played a […]

October 19, 2020

I’m pretty sure nobody saw the #EndSARS protests coming. Since the 7th of October 2020, when Runtown and Falz announced a demonstration at the Lekki Toll Gate, the movement has spread like wildfire to every corner of Nigeria. Protests are springing up in almost every state and people are catching on to demand better for […]

October 19, 2020

Women have been said to be at the forefront of this protest. Although some people say women should not join the protest, they did anyway. We asked six Nigerian women why they joined the #EndSARS protests. Linda, 21 Every day I spend on the road, is for the women and the queers. Police brutality affects […]

Recommended Quizzes

November 12, 2019

Are you a single pringle, stuck in a complicated situationship or happily married to the love of your life? This quiz is here to guess your current relationship status, and as you know, Zikoko quizzes are incredibly accurate (don’t quote us). So, give a shot:

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:

December 3, 2019

Are you a professional Yoruba demon? Are you walking around in search of whose life you can wreck at any given time? Well, this quiz knows exactly how many hearts you’ve shattered to date, and before you lie that your result is inaccurate, just remember that Zikoko is never wrong. Now, take it and be […]

October 29, 2019

We are going to be attempting to guess when you’ll marry based on your favourite Nigerian foods. What does your fave swallow have to do with when you’ll tie the knot? Please, don’t ask complicated questions. This quiz is rigorous and accurate (don’t quote us), so just take it already. QUIZ: Why Do You Have […]

More from Citizen

October 19, 2020

1. Food If you don’t have groceries at home, I don’t know what to tell you. With everything going on, it might be a little difficult or even near impossible to order food from restaurants. But hey, na who dey alive dey order food. 2. Data We’ve all seen how social media has played a […]

October 19, 2020

I’m pretty sure nobody saw the #EndSARS protests coming. Since the 7th of October 2020, when Runtown and Falz announced a demonstration at the Lekki Toll Gate, the movement has spread like wildfire to every corner of Nigeria. Protests are springing up in almost every state and people are catching on to demand better for […]

October 19, 2020

Reports and video footage circulating on social media reveal that prisoners have broken out of a prison in Benin, Edo State Nigeria. Other news media sites have also confirmed the development. At the moment, there is confusion about who exactly broke the prisoners out. While some say hoodlums masterminded the act, some others are blaming […]

October 18, 2020

As Nigerian youths continue to fight against police against brutality under the #EndSARS movement, there has been much ado the setting up of a judicial panel of inquiry in Nigeria’s 36 states, so as to look into the crimes committed by officers of the Nigeria Police Force. The Goal of the Judicial Inquiry The goal […]

October 17, 2020

For over a week now, Nigerians have been deeply involved in what many would call the biggest movement to happen in the country in recent years. Fair enough because we’re fighting for our lives here. Social media has played an important role in amplifying the voices of Nigerians, giving the rest of the world an […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

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.
February 6, 2020
Who doesn't want to find love? In our bid to help, we paired up a bunch of single Nigerians, sending them on an all-expense paid date, and interviewing them before and after they met.
January 27, 2020
Nigerians Talk is what happened when a motley crew of young Nigerians were put in front of a camera and asked a bunch of apparently random questions about life, love, money and more.
September 24, 2019
A group of Zikoko staff go on a road trip to every mainland country in ECOWAS West Africa

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