Abandoned by his parents as a young child, Zimbabwean Tobius Mupfuti learned the art of survival while living on the streets amidst the ever-present danger of predators, both animal and human. Life was a constant struggle for the things no child should have to worry about. Shelter. Food. Safety. Dignity.
Maybe that’s why, as a young man, he fell in love with boxing and why he was so good at it; he had been in a fight for survival his whole life. Whatever the reason, his dedication to the sport has led him to become a successful boxing coach and owner of the Victoria Falls Boxing Academy. Despite his success, or maybe because of it, his past was never far from his thoughts.
This is why today the orphaned children in Victoria Falls have a place to call home and a family to belong to. Tobius and his wife, Shuvai, despite their limited resources, take in the homeless children of Victoria Falls, caring for them as their own. Their small home, tucked in the back of the Boxing Academy, is hardly large enough for the couple and their baby, so the kids sleep on worn mattresses in the only space available – under the boxing ring.
But that’s all about to change. Thanks to the generosity and compassion of one amazing woman, Kris Hall, this sweet, growing family will soon have a new place to call home. One with enough beds for everyone.
At the Zim Stories: Live! event held at MATTER on March 2, Kris shared why she felt compelled to initiate this project, “I had a vision that the Lord wanted me to open an orphanage in Africa. The same week I had my vision, Tobius and Shuvai were told by local officials they needed to become an official orphanage or they would lose the children. I knew immediately that vision was for them. They love these children so much and would rather parent them than anything else.”
The project will be accomplished in two phases. Phase One is the construction and furnishing of a home for Tobius and Shuvai as well as a new Boxing Academy. To date, the home is complete. The Boxing Academy is still a work in progress. Phase Two will be the building and furnishing of a 40-bed Children’s Home. Once completed, the revenue from the Boxing Academy will fund the ongoing operation of the Children’s Home.
Contributing to the project has been FitHAUS in Long Lake, MN which donated a rig and an additional $5,000 worth of gym equipment. Some of their members also gave cash donations to help buy equipment. Courage Equipment has also assisted by giving discounted rates on gym equipment.
When It Gym owner and fitness trainer, Gina Kaiser, heard Tobius’ compelling story, she said it was a “no-brainer” to get involved. “My sister adopted her children. When I look at my niece and nephew, I wonder what would have happened to them if my sister hadn’t opened her home to them? I think about that with these kids in Zimbabwe. What would happen to them without Tobias? And then there is the tie to fitness. Fitness is so empowering. Tobius is teaching those kids to be strong, to overcome adversity and do things they never thought they could do. There couldn’t be anything more important to me than the combination of those two things. That’s why I’m doing this.”
On St. Patrick’s Day, Gina held a fundraiser that raised nearly $50,000 for the project. Her herculean efforts, as well as those of all who so generously donated, will go a long way to help complete Phase One and expedite the start of Phase Two.
“I think we’re all called to do something,” said Kris. “This is where my heart is at. This is what I feel I’ve been called to do. My prayer is that this is only the first one that we do. That we continue to do more to bless these kids in Africa.”
If you want to help bless the homeless kids in Victoria Falls, please go here to learn more. Watch this inspiring video of the Victoria Falls Boxing Academy and Children’s Home project in action!