There are a few social media accounts that show the diversity of human stories, experiences and perspective like Humans of New York (HONY), a photography project started in 2010 by Brandon Stanton.

Deploying the power of visual storytelling, Humans of New York has been to over 20 countries, documenting the lives and stories of strangers and, in so doing, reaching well over eight million people.

Recently, Humans of New York stopped over at Cairo, Egypt where it shared a number of stories from the North African country.

The project has now landed in Lagos and has so far shared insightful/inspiring stories and photographs of people in the city – including one featuring Temie Giwa, founder of the blood delivery company, Life Bank, and the road hawker who fed inmates in a prison vehicle while in traffic.

Check out some of the Lagos stories:

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“They’re called Yahoo Boys. The name comes from the old days when they used Yahoo email accounts to scam people. I first started seeing them when I went to the University of Lagos. They form little gangs. They travel in convoys where all the cars are the same color. They’re always on their laptops. These days a lot of them are legitimized. They rent office space. They refer to their targets as ‘clients.’ They start charities. They put their fraud money into other businesses. Some of them have Instagram accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers. They post pictures of their cars and clothes. They never mention where they got their money– but everyone knows. A lot of them buy art from me. Since a lot of their scams are emotional fraud, they’ll even ask me for advice on things that women would say in a relationship. Or they’ll ask me to pick up their phone and pretend to be a secretary. I never participate. Recently I’ve even stopped selling them paintings. It’s cost me a lot. But I can’t take their money without feeling complicit.” (Lagos, Nigeria)

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“In my church you’re either Christian or possessed by demons. We have services four times per week. Luckily zoning out looks a lot like praying. I’m not saying that I don’t believe any of it. I just have a lot of questions that nobody will answer. Whenever I ask a hard question, they just show me a bible quote that says I shouldn’t ask questions. It doesn’t make sense to me. I think I’m becoming a Nihilist. Honestly, I don’t see any reason why people should be born. You exist, then you strive to attain something to make sense of your existence, and then you don’t exist anymore. Can’t we cut out some of those steps? It’s just too much work. I didn’t sign up for this. And when you finally die– instead of everything stopping, you have to become conscious again? Heaven doesn’t sound that great. Supposedly there’s a lot of singing and trumpets. That sounds exhausting. I’d rather be sleeping.” (Lagos, Nigeria)

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Shortly after arriving in Lagos, my guide showed me a story that was being passed around Nigerian social media. There was a woman who’d been stopped in traffic behind a crowded prison truck, and she witnessed a food vendor running alongside, shoving his food between the bars of the window– into the hands of the prisoners inside. By the time he was finished, he’d given away all his food. The man was himself in desperate circumstances. He was sleeping outdoors. But despite having hardly anything to give, he gave away all his merchandise. Amazingly, my guide Kola was able to locate the man. His name is Ibere Ugochukwu. And this is his story. – – “A few years ago I worked as an apprentice in a cosmetics shop. I was supposed to receive a payment at the end of my term. But I was warned by the other employees that the owner would find a reason not to pay me. He’d always invent reasons to fire his boys right before their payment. So I made the decision to quit. But when I told him, he dragged me to the police. He told them lies about me. He told them I’d stolen so much money. And they tortured me. They tied my hands and legs and they hung me from the ceiling. They beat me. I went deaf from all the slaps. For ten days I was given no food. My fellow prisoners would share little bits of their meals when they were finished. But some days I saw nothing. Honestly I was about to die. And I started to pray to God. And on the tenth day, the guards decided that it would cause too much trouble to let me die. They told my employer: ‘After what we did to him, he must be innocent. Because he’d have confessed if he was guilty.” They released me into the world like a madman. And I’ve carried the memory ever since. I promised myself that if I ever found someone in a similar situation, I would help. So when I learned that prisoners pass down this road, I chose to hawk in this location. I waited until I finally saw the truck, and I pushed all my food through the bars. My fellow vendors couldn’t believe it. They asked me who would pay me for the food. I told them: ‘I didn’t do it for any man. I did it because of what God did for me.’” (Lagos, Nigeria)

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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)

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“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 it. But my parents wouldn’t agree to bring a total stranger into our house. How are we OK with people dying like chickens on the side of the road? Millions of people in this country haven’t even taken a single meal today. I can’t stand it. I’m thirty now and I’m struggling. But I’m still trying to help even though I don’t have money. I taught myself to treat diabetes with herbs. I’ve treated ten people so far who can’t afford the hospital. But I want to do more. I’ve given myself a timeframe. I’ve been working at this conservation center for three years now, and I’ve learned a lot. In a few years I’m going to open my own center. I can use the profits to build houses for people who have no place to stay. Each person can stay for a year. Maybe if they can just rest their head for a month, they’ll find a way to feed themselves. And if they eat for a week, they’ll start to reason like a human being. At the very least they’ll see that it’s possible to be loved by someone. And maybe they’ll realize that God loves them too.” (Lagos, Nigeria)

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“When I was the age of this boy, my father had a stroke. My family used all our savings to take care of him. And after we’d spent everything, my father gave up the ghost. We were left in a desperate situation. There was no money left. There were six of us living in a single room. I was only in 5th grade, but I had to go to work. I carried oranges on my head and sold them in the street. Then one day I met the owner of a print shop. He was a friend of my brother. He fed me every afternoon, and he began to teach me his profession. He told me: ‘Never view yourself as having nothing.’ And he showed me that I could change my life with skills alone. Now I have my own shop. And anyone who has an interest, I will teach them. I’ve taught fourteen boys already. This boy has stopped going to school. But we can’t allow him to be idle. We must keep him busy because there’s criminality all around us. Every day we see drug dealers walk by. I point to them and I ask: ‘Do you want to be like them? Or do you want to be like me?’” (Lagos, Nigeria)

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