In tears one minute and smiling the next, One Direction are reliving their two-day “real eye-opener” of a trip to Africa.
Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan all visited Agbogbloshie township in the capital of Accra to see how Red Nose Day money is helping the poorest people in Ghana.
The past year has been one of global success and incredible firsts for the band – meeting the Queen, winning a Brit Award and performing their hit single What Makes You Beautiful from the back of a van as part of the Olympics closing ceremony – so their first time in Africa was a shock, the boys tell !.
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But some touching moments emerged from the contrasting worlds. Harry was particularly struck by a barefoot seven-year-old girl called Fridous and her tartan hat. “She came up and took my hand and we really bonded,” says Harry. “She lives in the slum with her family, who battle to make a living.
“Fortunately for me, English is the main language here so we quickly became friends and she clung to me for most of the day. She was adorable. I gave her my St Christopher”s necklace to keep her safe.”
“Seeing people live in tiny wooden shacks without electricity or water was a massive culture shock,” recalls Liam.
“No one deserves to be in such poor conditions,” adds a shocked Louis. “It was really upsetting because it was a million miles away from our lives back home.”
During their visit the boys were surrounded by a sea of excited children all day with two or three hanging from their arms. “We ended up filming a couple of verses of our Red Nose Day single One Way or Another (Teenage Kicks), while they were dancing on the desks. It was total chaos,” says Zayn. “It was brilliant and we all left with hand-written letters from the students.”
To read more of the interview with One Direction pick up a copy of !, issue 1265,out now.