“I was completely blown away by their eagerness to learn."

By Hayden Wright

In support of Britain’s Red Nose Day, Ed Sheeran made a trip to Liberia to witness poverty firsthand. The “Shape of You” singer penned an essay for the BBC recounting his experience to shine a light on how children around the world survive in “squalor.”

“It was really shocking seeing the appalling conditions that people live in and it was far worse than I could have ever imagined,” he wrote. “Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw, but despite all of this, everyone’s positivity was overwhelming.”

Related: Ed Sheeran Honored by Songwriters Hall Of Fame

Sheeran played music for the kids, who “absolutely loved singing and clapping along to my songs.” The experience left an indelible impression on the English singer-songwriter.

“I was completely blown away by their eagerness to learn. They really wanted to be in school and all had big dreams for the future. Despite living in one of the poorest places on Earth, they weren’t prepared to let their circumstances hold them back.”

One of the biggest inequalities Sheeran found was access to education: For many of the children he met, going to school is an insurmountable obstacle.

“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.”

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