Ed Sheeran, the pop prince of the 21st c., visited Liberia’s West Point, “the largest and most dangerous slum in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia.”
He went to a school there, so he met a lot of children. They were in awe of him not for his Billboard Hot 100 songs, but for his tattoo sleeves. “The welcome from the kids was amazing, especially when they saw my tattoos; they went nuts and couldn’t understand what they were,” he writes to BBC News.
He wanted to make a difference, so he visited Liberia “on a Comic Relief trip.”
He witnessed firsthand the absolute poverty of Liberians in West Point, and he became emotional when he saw the conditions the children were living in. He was floored.
“It was really shocking seeing the appalling conditions that people live in and it was far worse than I could have ever imagined. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw, but despite all of this, everyone’s positivity was overwhelming,” he states.
He and the filming crew were in between takes when a little girl, Peaches, began conversation with the “Lego House” singer. The boys and girls around him were dressed in their school uniforms, but Peaches was dressed in regular attire.
“She explained that since her father’s death during the Ebola crisis, her mother couldn’t afford to send her to school anymore. At just 12-years-old, she had already been working for over a year helping to support her family,” he explains.
He realized Peaches was a little girl suffering like the other children around her.
Boys and girls are often forced to give up on their dreams to pursue a job in the workforce; they need to feed their families because their guardians are either too impoverished themselves, or their guardians have passed away.
Peaches’ story broke Sheeran’s heart.
“Peaches told me she wanted to be a musician when she grows up, but for now, she has been forced to drop out of school and spend her days working in a filthy, dangerous slum, earning what she can to help feed her family,” he pens.
Sheeran was moved by Peaches’ perseverance and strength, and he hoped others would feel the same way.
“Because of public donations, many children will be able to go back to school and get an education. For a lot of them this is their only chance of a better future and a life outside of the slum. Just a small amount of money can make such a big difference in a place like West Point and at least gives these kids a fighting chance,” he writes.
Sheeran left a new man, and he left with a new purpose.
“I really hope the money we raise this Red Nose Day can help thousands of children, just like Peaches, to follow their dreams,” he concludes.