FORMER US GANG MEMBER BRINGS HOPE TO CAMBODIA
An ex-gang member is harnessing the empowering aspects of hip hop to help troubled kids in Cambodia have a better life. Later this month, his dance crew ‘Tiny Toones’ will stage a one-off performance here in Auckland.
The former Los Angeles gang member, Tuy Sobil’s, past now serves as a powerful catalyst for change of youngsters in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh.
Sobil, nicknamed KK, joined the US gang ‘The Crips’ at just 13; and was jailed for armed robbery at age 18. After two years in Taft prison, California, he was transferred to the Immigration Detention Centre, where he served a further three years before he was sent back to Cambodia.
Many Cambodian-American deportees like KK were given permanent residency in the US as children of refugees; they were not in the US illegally. However, KK’s parents did not go through the process of applying for citizenship. The 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) states any non-citizen living in the US can be deported if convicted for an aggravated felony.
Since facing deportation in 2004, KK has strived to create a better life for himself and for the impoverished children of Phnom Penh.
After being dropped in Cambodia with no support, KK joined the outreach staff at Korsang, volunteering in the slums to educate Cambodians about drug abuse and HIV.The local children found out about his reputation as a break dancer and he began giving lessons; ‘Tiny Toones’ was born.
Over the past seven years, the organisation has grown and has reached more than 5,000 kids at its six sites across Phnom Penh’s slums. But it is not just dance that is taught at KK’s Tiny Toones NGO. The children are educated about drug abuse, HIV/AIDS, along with music, English, Khmer and computer skills. Through the medium of hip hop, KK teaches street kids the power of their potential.
The NGO has also formed a premier performance crew of 8 dancers and 3 rappers. These artists are pioneering hip hop in Cambodia and influencing hundreds in their communities through their craft. On the international stage, they have inspired thousands by sharing their personal life-changing stories, Cambodia’s rich history and culture and a distinct fusion style of hip hop with traditional Khmer dance and music.
In the last few years, the crew have traveled to the USA, Italy, Singapore and most recently Melbourne where all five of the shows they staged sold out.
Later this month, Tiny Toones will be in New Zealand to debut their remarkable and stunning performance, share their personal stories and inspire local youths with a tour of Auckland schools.
Members of the public are invited to witness the worldwide-acclaimed troupe perform their stories at:
Auckland Girls Grammar School - 14 Howe St, Newton, Auckland
Friday 27 April at 7:30PM
For ticketing details please visit:
All of the funds from this one-off performance will help give children in the slums of Cambodia skills to further their potential, and hope in a more promising future.
More information can be found at www.tinytoones.org.nz
Please note: KK & Tiny Toones will be in New Zealand from 19 April to 29 April 2012