"Tiny Toones" Helps Cambodian Street Children
Tiny Toones is local Cambodian organization that tries to help thousands of poor children who live on the streets of Phnom Penh. It offers break dance and hip hop classes for children who come from poor families or have no families at all. They are drug addicts or have contact with AIDS and other diseases .
Tiny Toones teaches children the basic steps of break dancing. It also gives them classroom lessons and teaches them about the dangers of HIV and drug use . They also learn English and have computer lessons. Tiny Toones reaches children who normally do not trust adults.
Tiny Toones was founded by a Cambodian American called Tuy Sobil, or simply “KK”. He was born in a Thai refugee camp in 1977. After fleeing the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s his family arrived in America in 1981 where they lived in one of the most dangerous and gang-ridden areas of Long Beach California. There he found that he was talented in dancing and even won a break dance contest . After an armed robbery he was in put prison for eight years. In 2004 he was deported to Cambodia where he started the Tiny Toones project.
KK wants to keep children from making the same mistakes that he did. He says dancing has a way of bringing people together. He hopes more Cambodians will help in the project and get children off the street and into a better life. They should become role models in Cambodian society .
The children respect KK because he was one of them. He is a person who they can look up to, who teaches them to take life into their own hands. Tiny Toones is a community , a youth centre where they can escape to from the dangerous life of the streets. Tiny Toones started off with 9 children. Now there are hundreds of youngsters are in the program.
Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in Asia. 62% of the population are under the age of 24. 30% of all Cambodians live below the poverty line . Young people have no perspective , no hope. With Tiny Toones they may have something to hope for.
Tiny Toones at the American embassy in Cambodia
- AIDS = a very serious disease that stops your body from protecting itself from infections ; it usually leads to death
- armed = with guns
- basic = most important
- community = group of people
- contest = competition
- deport = to make someone leave a country and go back to the place they came from
- disease = illness
- drug addict = a person who takes drugs and cannot stop
- drug use = what happens if you take drugs
- flee = escape
- found – founded = create
- gang-ridden = with a lot of gang violence
- local = in the area you live in
- offer = give
- perspective = future
- poverty line = income below which a person is thought to be very poor and does not have enough to live without help
- refugee camp = a place that helps people who have to leave their country in a war or for political reasons
- regime =government that is not elected in a fair way or one that you think is bad
- society = people in general
- trust = to believe that someone is honest and will not do anything bad
- youngster = young person or child