SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - It's heartbreaking to know that some children in the world go without food or shelter. But one Shreveport woman is leading the charge to make a difference an ocean away. She is giving children in Africa a reason to smile again
Velma Tarver is the founder of Institute of Global Outreach. She says these children are not just numbers to her. She wants them to know that someone cares about them. Tarver says by the time these children are 10 years old they have watched their parents die. She says they have been hungry most of their lives and they are sick.
Many of them are are motherless, fatherless, and come from a life of poverty. Some of the are living with HIV. Without help, they will die. She says if people don't come together and help them, they will be left to suffer.
In 2007, Tarver started the non-profit organization, Institute for Global Outreach. It is her mission to raise as much money for these children so they will have shelter, clothes, and food. She has partnered with three organizations in Africa. She has three-ring binders full of information on children in her program complete with health reports, report cards, and letters every year. All of the children call her mother.
Tarver reads a letter sent from one of the children in Africa, "Dear my mother, how are you? I am fine. How about your family? Thanks to God I am fine. I received the money you send me. Thank you God Bless."
Tarver is passionate about her mission. Each year, she hosts a Walk for Humanity Run/Walk in Shreveport. This year, there was a walk/run held in Baton Rouge. The money raised from the annual fundraiser goes back into the organization to help pay for expenses like food, clothing and basic needs for the children in Africa.
Tarver says seeing the children each year in Africa are the highlight of her visits there. Tarver says when she started the program, there were initially 30 children. Now, it has impacted more than 600.
Tarver was supposed to visit the children to Ethiopia, East Africa in November, but had to postpone her trip because of the Ebola scare in West Africa.
She still plans to take clothes, book bags, and other necessities when she does visit. She also plans to expand her outreach to other needy countries.
Because of KSLA's story many have reached out and asked how they can donate to the cause. You can donate through the Institute of Global Outreach web page.