That Cambodian Hip-Hop Spirit

Cambodian hip hop Almost every one of us who has been to Cambodia can tell our own stories of the beautiful and indomitable spirit of the Cambodian people. It comes in a hello or smile from a child in a village, a tuk tuk driver, students in a school or the countless numbers of Cambodians working hard to create a better tomorrow.

I came across this article about one such remarkable young American-Cambodian with a unique story. Tuy Sobil, better known as Kay Kay, is using his love of music and hip hop in particular to reach out to other young at-risk Cambodians on the fringes of society. A former gang member Kay Kay

“…is one of some 200 Cambodians ejected from the United States over the past several years under a law which deports felons who do not have American citizenship. Kay Kay had never been back to Cambodia, which he left as a baby when his family emigrated to the US. His parents neglected to complete US citizenship documents when they arrived in California and after being jailed for armed robbery at 18 he was deported, leaving his family and young son behind.”

Back in Phnom Penh

Kay Kay started Tiny Toones which has found an important niche in getting young disadvantaged Cambodians to a more positive place in their lives:

“Tiny Toones Cambodia uses breakdancing, Hip-Hop music, and the contemporary arts as creative tools to empower the youth of Cambodia to live healthier lives free of HIV and drugs, build a more promising future by furthering their educational opportunities, and become positive role models for their community.

Tiny Toones welcomes all youth to participate in its programs, regardless of gender, social-economic status, physical handicaps, family background, or other personal disadvantages. The education, health, and arts curriculum of Tiny Toones consists of free daily classes in English and Khmer to supplement the children’s public schooling, and the integration of HIV education and drug prevention in a fun, child-friendly approach through fun games, skits, and performances. Peer mentors are available around the clock to provide positive support and to teach the elements of Hip-Hop, including breakdancing, rapping, and DJing.”

I would say if music, street or youth culture is your thing then you may want to check out Tiny Toones if you are planning a visit to Phnom Penh.

(Thinking of visiting the temples of Angkor Wat? Don’t forget to check out my friend Savuth’s tuk tuk services!)

~ by Leonard on August 28, 2009.

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