Ed Sheeran saved the lives of a group of homeless street boys during his trip to Liberia, the British charity organization Comic Relief confirmed on Friday, March 24.
The “Shape of You” singer, 26, visited the African country as part of Comic Relief’s annual fundraising telethon, Red Nose Day, which aired in the U.K. Friday night. In Liberia, he met with a young boy named JD who lived on the streets of Monrovia, owned only one set of clothing and survived on just a cup of water and a piece of bread each day.
Sheeran told viewers he was worried about leaving JD and his friends alone in the slum. “Once we’re done here, we’re going to pack up the camera and these guys are going to be sleeping in a canoe with a lot of dangerous people about. Really does not feel right leaving at all,” he said. “I mean, the only thing you can do is help them, which we should. My natural instinct is to just put them in a car and just take them and just put them in a hotel until we can get them sorted.”
The two-time Grammy winner then asked the camera crew if he could pay to put the boys in a house with adult supervision. “It doesn’t matter how much it costs,” he said. “Can we just get him and his five mates in a house with an older person to look after them? I don’t think we can go until that’s sorted.”
Earlier in the telethon, Sheeran broke down in tears while a 12-year-old girl named Peaches sang him a song that reminded her of her father, who died of Ebola. “The last thing I always wanted [was to be] a celebrity that comes to Africa and cries on TV,” he told the camera. “I really wanted to come away saying, ‘Everything is positive, everything is great,’ and then I was just singing with that girl and she was smiling, and then she started crying. Her dad taught her how to sing, and she got really choked up about it.”
After the show aired, Comic Relief confirmed on Twitter that Sheeran paid for a safe home for the street boys he met. “JD & his friends, who @EdSheeran met, are now safe but many more children still live in danger. Help us help them,” the charity wrote.
“I know it’s a cliché but as you tuck your kids into bed tonight, think about those children who will be bedding down in boats, under railway bridges and on rubbish dumps,” the singer-songwriter wrote in an essay for The Sun. “Their lives are a living hell, but this Red Nose Day you really can help to give them a better future.”
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