When Joshua Roberts first met 8-week-old Alex, the baby’s hand was the size of a nickel.
Born two months early, the tiny boy struggled with feedings and as a result was dehydrated, malnourished and severely underweight. He could barely open his eyes. He struggled to breathe.
Tucked away in a rural Nicaraguan village, Roberts and members of a mission team helped the baby travel an hour to a hospital to get the medical care he needed.
“Our pediatric provider said if he did not get the care that he needed, he would have died,” says Roberts, 32. “He was absolutely skin and bones. He was pretty lifeless.”
So moved by Alex’s story, Roberts later dug into his own pocket to help provide diapers and formula. And as a member of Movement’s Quality Control team, the Movement Foundation matched Roberts’ efforts dollar-for-dollar.
It paid off: now at 1 years old, Alex is thriving, and has put on enough weight that Roberts describes him as a “little chunk.”
‘I thought I was going to break him’
Roberts was in Nicaragua for his second trip with Bless Back Worldwide, a medical missions organization based in Matthews, N.C., when he met Alex. Bless Back formed after Haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010 and partners with ministries and organizations in both countries to provide medical, dental, vision and spiritual services to people with little or no access to health care.
Roberts took advantage of his break between leaving Bank of America and starting at Movement to go on the mission trip.
He worked as a pharmacy technician in college and helped run a medical clinic’s pharmacy — part of Bless Back’s partnership with Los Rayos De Esperanza — on the Nicaraguan mission.
Mid-week through his stay, Detra Chambers, a pediatric medical adviser volunteering with Bless Back, told Roberts about Alex’s fragile condition.
“My heart broke,” says Roberts, who went to visit Alex at his home with Chambers and two others. “To see (Alex) in that environment was pretty heartbreaking.”
The boy lived with his parents in a corrugated steel and cardboard hut. When the visitors arrived, Alex’s mother was cradling him near a burning pile of trash and plumes of smoke — so prevalent in developing countries.
“He was so small and helpless,” Roberts says. “I didn’t want to hold him because I thought I was going to break him.”
‘Do what you can’
The missionaries pleaded with Alex’s mother to admit him to the hospital. Her grandfather convinced her to accept their help.
The group took Alex to a private hospital, where he was placed in an incubator and received vitamins and fluids through an IV to replenish his electrolytes. Bless Back helped pay for Alex’s pediatric visits, and for his family’s transportation to and from the hospital.
Once returning stateside, Roberts kept track of baby Alex’s progress. After learning that money was getting tight for diapers and formula, he asked the Movement Foundation to match his own donation to Alex’s care.
As part of its mission to bring life, light and hope to people in need, the Movement Foundation matches employee donations to nonprofits and charities. The foundation also matches employees’ volunteer hours — donating $20 for every hour an employee volunteers with a designated group. It’s a chance for Movement to help employees double their giving to causes that mean most to them.
The foundation matched Roberts’ contribution and together gave $200 toward Alex’s medical care. Although it seems like a small amount, that money goes a long way in Nicaragua, the poorest country in Central America.
“People don’t think a small contribution will make an impact (but) it has nothing to do with the amount you give,” Roberts says. “It has everything to do with the sacrifice.”
Roberts hopes Alex’s story urges more employees to take advantage of Movement Match Giving.
No matter how much you donate “your money’s doubled so it’s a great investment, regardless,” Roberts says. “Do what you can. Give sacrificially because I believe God will bless that, and you will see the impact that it makes.”