(MULVANE, Kan.) — There's a proverb that says "Who takes the child by the hand, takes the mother by the heart." With the story of Melissa Busby and her youngest daughter it's truer than you know.
In the summer of 2009, Melissa was doing her annual missionary work in Uganda, helping build libraries and boost literacy in the African country. This pastor's wife didn't know it at the time, but God was about to give her an entirely new mission.
"Each year that she would leave for Uganda my joke would be bring back coffee and a baby," said her husband, Cody.
When Melissa met three week-old mercy it wasn't a joke anymore.
"I held her in my arms and it was only about five minutes, but God just told me this is your child," she said.
Mercy's mother died while giving birth, an all too common occurrence in Uganda. With other relatives unable to care for her, the newborn was orphaned at a medical clinic.
That night, Melissa went to an internet cafe and emailed her husband. "I said I really hope you don't mind but I think our souvenir might be a baby and it's a girl."
The Busby's already had two daughters. They had already talked about adopting a third, so the decision to add Mercy was easy. The adoption process was not, however. Bad advice from attorneys coupled with Uganda's adoption rules made for a long and challenging ordeal that separated Melissa from the rest of family for nearly a year.
Finally, last July, the adoption became official and Mercy was able to come to the U.S. Immediately, she bonded with her two older sisters and Melissa's family was complete. Still, her mission was not.
While Mercy enjoyed life with her new family, 16 other Ugandan children were being orphaned the same way every day. Women in the country often don't have the money to purchase basic birthing supplies, like gauze, sterile pads and razors blades, required by hospitals and clinics. As a result, the women are turned away and forced to have their babies in unsafe, unsanitary conditions with the help of midwives.
"I wanted to do something to honor her mother. Mercy's not an orphan because her mother didn't want her," said Melissa. "Her mom didn't have a choice and it broke my heart to think about that happening to other people."
So melissa found her new mission. She calls them Mama kits. Each box has all the supplies a Ugandan mother needs to deliver her baby. Now, Melissa delivers the kits through a non-profit called "Mercy for Mamas".
"The mamas are so excited," she said "The kit costs $7. That's a huge amount of money to them. Most of them live on less than a dollar a day."
"Mercy for Mamas" has delivered nearly a thousand kits to medical clinics and villages. Adopting Mercy has been incredibly rewarding for the Busby family, but it's also helped them learn and spread an important message.
In Melissa's words, "Every child deserves a family and to be loved."