Witnessing the living conditions of children in Liberia, West Africa, was an eye-opening experience for Ed Sheeran.
The English singer’s visit was a part of Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day 2017, a biennial telethon held in support of the British charity. Sheeran, 26, was “shocked” and “appalled” by the condition school children were living in West Point — a township in Liberia’s capital city of Monrovia.
The “Castle on the Hills” songwriter documented his trip for the BBC, writing “There are hundreds of thousands of people crammed into West Point, most of them living in squalor, so getting an education is a privilege and not something all of the kids get to do.”
In particular, Sheeran met one little girl he’ll likely never forget. “As we were taking a break from filming, a little girl came over to talk to me. Her name was Peaches and unlike the other children I’d met, she wasn’t in a uniform.”
The girl explained to the recording artist “that since her father’s death during the Ebola crisis, her mother couldn’t afford to send her to school any more. We had an impromptu jamming session and the girl could really sing,” Sheeran continued. “Peaches sang a song that reminded her of her father and as she did, tears started to roll down her face. The enthusiasm that was initially shining out of her disappeared.”
“It was at this point that the reality of Peaches’ situation, and many, many kids just like her, hit me really hard.”
Sheeran also shares how fascinated the children were with his tattoos. “The welcome from the kids was amazing, especially when they saw my tattoos; they went nuts and couldn’t understand what they were. Some of the younger kids tried to wipe them off. Everyone wanted to know what we were doing and where we were from.”
Red Nose Day takes place on Friday, March 24 at The O2 arena in London. This year, the telethon will raise money to help Africans in five key ways: immunization, mental health, vulnerable young people, domestic violence and fighting malaria.
You can learn more about Comic Relief and Red Nose Day 2017 here.