Humans of New York took its platform to Lagos, Nigeria and the stories collected from this visit are incredibly inspiring.
Humans of New York, or HONY, began as a photography project in 2010 with an aim to catalogue those living in New York City. Since then, Brandon Stanton, the man behind the camera, has turned HONY into a visual storytelling platform by interviewing his subjects and asking them to share their stories.
Some stories inspire readers to make a change in their lives while others invite them to reflect on their past. Regardless of the various takeaways, it’s clear that people (they have 8.2 million Instagram followers) value these intimate glimpses into the lives of strangers.
With a growing global audience, Stanton has taken his project abroad. He has now featured stories from all over the world, including Uganda, Vietnam and Jordan. Recently, Stanton took HONY to Lagos, Nigeria and the individuals he’s met so far tell stories of triumph, activism, hope and so much more. Here are four stories that will inspire you to be the change you want to see in the world!
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“My mother won the visa lottery, so when I was young my family relocated to Minnesota. I think I’m the only one of my siblings who always viewed Nigeria as home. I participated in Model UN. I studied international political science. I admired Nelson Mandela. So I always knew I’d go back to Africa one day. After graduation I interned with an NGO in Northern Nigeria. During that trip I witnessed a breached birth in a village. There was no C-Section available, so the baby died. I knew then that not only would I be coming home to Nigeria, but I’d be doing something in healthcare. I’ve been home for six years now. I’ve chosen to work on the country’s blood distribution problem. Every year tens of thousands of people die while waiting for blood. Meanwhile there are blood banks discarding unused inventory. My company LifeBank is trying to close that gap. Most blood banks in Lagos are participating in our program. Every morning we take an inventory. And when blood is urgently needed, we use bikes to deliver. It’s not easy. Imagine New York City without the infrastructure and no subway system. That’s Lagos. Yet LifeBank has delivered over 10,000 bags of blood within 55 minutes. Blood shortage is a global problem. And if we can do it in Lagos, we can do it anywhere. In December we’re expanding to two new cities. But I see us all over the world.” (Lagos, Nigeria)
After witnessing a breached birth in a Nigerian village where C-sections were not possible, this woman decided that she would come back to Nigeria and work in the healthcare field because she knew she could make an impact. After graduating from a university in the United States, she now made the move and is working towards solving Nigeria’s blood distribution problem by launching an innovative company called LifeBank.
“My uncle was an engineer. He’s the one that exposed me to reading. He’d get a book, finish it, and give it to me. By the time I was twenty I’d read over one thousand books. I learned how to live from the characters I encountered. The first book I ever read was…" pic.twitter.com/Cm6EJziGQA
— Brandon Stanton (@humansofny) October 2, 2018
This man learned many life lessons by reading books gifted to him in his youth from his uncle. One important message that stuck with him was that everyone has the power to make change. This inspired him to protest the conditions he refused to accept, such as police violence and poor medical facilities.
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“You can’t just use Beyoncé to sell products in Nigeria. Well, maybe Beyoncé is a bad example. Beyoncé can sell anywhere. But most of the time you need to adapt your advertising to local tastes. So I help international companies create marketing campaigns for Nigeria. A few years ago I started my own company. I’d gotten tired of working for someone else. I was doing all the work on some projects, and I’d only walk away with peanuts. So I took the leap. My goal was to win a single bid that first year. I just needed one big name to risk a little money on me. Because a little money to them was a lot of money to me. I knew I had the technical experience. I had the ‘know how.’ I just didn’t have an office, or a staff, or a big name. But that became my pitch. I argued that bigger agencies take their clients for granted. I told companies: ‘I’m not relaxed like that. I’m hungry. I’m going to give you more juice.’ My first client ended up being Coca Cola. Maybe I didn’t have things quite as figured out as I allowed them to believe. But hey, that’s advertising. And I delivered.” (Lagos, Nigeria)
This woman helped international companies create marketing campaigns for Nigeria before taking the leap to start her own advertising company. It took believing in herself and her regional expertise first before she got others to believe in her too. In fact, Coca Cola was her first client! Talk about being a boss lady.
“I used to walk 12 kilometers to school. And every day along the side of the road, there’d be an old woman who was so sick that she couldn’t move. The sun would beat her. The rain would beat her. And nobody would help. I was only seven years old. I couldn’t stand…" pic.twitter.com/AW8i8QTAlT
— Brandon Stanton (@humansofny) September 24, 2018
After witnessing a woman struggle on the side of the road during his walks to school, this man found ways to serve others, even with financial issues of his own. He started off by teaching himself how to treat diabetes with herbs and helping those who couldn’t afford a hospital visit. In the future, he hopes to open his own center to help build houses for people.
You too can be the change you want to see in the world! Join the movement to fight against extreme poverty today.