A nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the plight of people struggling to survive in Africa will host a Walk For Humanity health walk and 5K run downtown Saturday morning.

The Institute for Global Outreach, founded by Velma Kirksey-Tarver in 2007, has hosted similar walks in Shreveport over the past few years with great success, and Saturday’s event will be the first in Baton Rouge.

The mile-long health walk will begin at 8 a.m. on the corner of North and Fourth streets, and the 5K will start 30 minutes later.

The group raised more than $50,000 from its most recent walk a few weeks ago in Shreveport.

The money goes toward helping more than 300 children in Ethiopia, including 100 in early childhood education programs.

The money raised pays for food, clothes and books for schools, Kirksey-Tarver said. Most of the children sponsored by the Institute have been orphaned because of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“Most people, especially in this area, are not aware of the suffering of people in third-world countries,” Kirksey-Tarver said. “They don’t understand that people don’t have running water or don’t have the bare necessities to survive.

“I know of children who would not be here if not for Global Outreach.”

Kirksey-Tarver said she began the group after wanting to help the people in Africa, but she did not know of any organizations she could volunteer for, so she created her own.

Anyone interested in signing up for the race can register through www.eventbrite.com or at the beginning of the race.