When You Come Back?

A Cambodian Memoir by Bonnie Goodman

We were greeted by a flock of smiling children as we stepped out of the bus onto the grounds of Wot Opot Children’s Center in Takeo, Cambodia. Within seconds, a girl named Channe took my hand, looked up into my eyes and asked, “How long you stay”?   After dinner that first night, she came back to me and inquired, “When you come back”?

It has been 8 months since I tearfully parted from the 54 “Watopotians”, and still feel enormously blessed to have spent a week with these precious children and teens. Yet, a deep yearning lingers to see and work with them again, as they have left a profound and indelible imprint in my heart. I think of these children every day, easily recalling their wide eyes, smiles and thirst for physical contact. I miss: marveling at their jewelry-making skills, tutoring them in math, discussing their feelings, watching them meditate, and gleefully joining them in disco dancing as they release the final energy from each day.

I regularly visit the Wat Opot website and the co-director’s blog, craving for ongoing updates of events and tidbits of the children’s lives. I’m committed to leaving comments after each entry, both to support the WO directors and share my admiration for their untiring efforts in parenting these children. The posting of pictures provides a glimpse of their development, as I gratefully get to examine changes in their faces.

During our final evening with the children, Channe’s question was answered:

‘We HOPE to come back to WO some day’. There is a strong likelihood that IWA will return to Cambodia for a future mission. Have no doubt; I will be the first to sign up, and enthusiastically anticipate being reunited with this loving community of children.

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