Ed Sheeran was moved to tears, then compelled to take action, after meeting a young boy named JD who lives on the streets during his recent trip to Africa for Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day. In the attached video clip, Sheeran is first struck by the squalor of the slums surrounding what should be a beautiful beach. The conditions, instead, are glaringly horrible.
“Across Africa, millions of the world’s poorest children don’t even have a bed to sleep in,” Sheeran narrates. “They’re hidden away in any crevice they can find.”
It’s 4 a.m. across the world where the “Shape of You” singer looks in on two small boys who are sleeping in a wooden boat that’s stuck in the sand in the dingy surroundings. Packs of adults are hanging around the perimeter of the sleeping boys. An even bigger horror, perhaps, is that small children like these are at risk of being raped there.
The Grammy-winning singer turns to the camera with tears crowding the corners of his eyes. “I can’t process this,” he says, “They’re so tiny.”
Sheeran introduces, then sits down with a homeless boy named JD, who has been living in the streets for six months. His mother and grandfather died from the Ebola virus and his father ran away. Now, he survives on his own the best he can.
Like the young girl named Peaches who Sheeran previously met, JD has dreams for a better future. He wants to go to school and become president so he can build schools and “feed the community.”
Sheeran is visibly overcome with emotion at the thought of leaving JD, or any of them behind.
“Really does not feel right leaving at all,” he tells the camera crew. “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. Can we do that? Can I pay to put them in a house until we get them in a school?”
Sheeran adds, “It doesn’t matter how much it costs …” and then arranges for JD and five of “his mates” to go somewhere safe to sleep.
The entire sequence is so moving, yet so troubling. The pop superstar reminds us these are only a few children out of millions who are living in horrible, dangerous conditions. He urges people to donate anything they can to help them.
Ed Sheeran’s trip to Liberia to support Red Nose Day 2017 was his first. He joins a long line of celebs who support the charity’s efforts to end homelessness and hunger for children in the UK and Africa. “The Late Late Show” host James Corden is a huge Red Nose Day advocate and the cast of Richard Curtis’ beloved 2003 romantic comedy “Love Actually” reunited this year for the cause.
Comic Relief confirmed via Twitter that JD and his friends are safe, thanks to Ed Sheeran’s help. The tweet reads: “JD & his friends, who @EdSheeran met, are now safe but many more children still live in danger. Help us help them http://www.rednoseday.com.”
Sheeran performed his inspirational new anthem from his chart-topping third studio album Divide, “What Do I Know?,” live on the BBC Red Nose Day TV special. He also played it as part of a hilarious sketch for a music video with Kurupt FM.
Red Nose Day will also air a TV special in the US on May 25 on NBC.
Stay tuned to AXS for Ed Sheeran updates.