I was sharing this white knuckle helicopter ride and hearing these desperate, appalling accounts of what took place with my fellow Laureus Academy Member skateboard superhero Tony Hawk.
We were there to see the work being conducted in this devastated area by a partnership between Laureus Sport for Good, Olympic Aid and UNICEF which had led to the creation of a programme that aimed to take small steps towards helping people in the country to rebuild their lives through sport and to encourage the thousands of child soldiers, who had fought in the civil war between 1991 and 2002, to return to their homes and normal life.
Over the past two weeks, I couldn’t help thinking back to those memories of Sierra Leone as I watched with horror the events unfolding in Ukraine. After so many years of peace in Europe, it seems bewildering that one nation can take such ruthless, merciless action against another, whatever the perceived disagreements between the two.
The nature of the conflicts, of course, is different, but having talked to many of the local people, and particularly the children in Sierra Leone, you cannot underestimate the horror of war wherever it takes place and the hopelessness with which the population suffers its fate.
These are days of crisis and fear, but we must have faith and, at some point in the future, hope and believe that the nightmare ends and the world stays together to help with the reconstruction of Ukraine. Laureus will do whatever is within its power to help.