The US deported Tuy Sobil, aka Kay Kay, in 2004. Now he has sent his students back.
Homie, T-Boy, Diamond, Fresh, Suicide, Khay and DJ K’Dep, ages 16 to 23, got on a plane April 13 with five US cities on their itineraries, Kay Kay said.
The trip is the first ever in the US for trainees of Tiny Toones, an organization founded and directed by Kay Kay that teaches Cambodian street youths how to breakdance, among other things. The tour is scheduled to last until May 5 and includes performances and fundraisers in Madison, Wisconsin; New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Seattle, Washington; and Los Angeles.
“I’m happy, very happy that they get to be there and see the country,” Kay Kay said of the seven pupils, who are advanced enough to mentor others at Tiny Toones. None had been outside Cambodia before, he added.
Kay Kay, who was deported for armed robbery, said he didn’t attempt to go to the US himself, although he is in the process of finding a way to visit.
“We’ve got a team in the US taking care of that; we don’t know what’s going on,” said Tiny Toones Creative Director Phanna Nam, aka Peanut, as the two sat at Kay Kay’s mother’s house near Phnom Penh International Airport on Sunday afternoon.
The pair were waiting to catch an evening flight to Bangkok, where another group of Tiny Toones students—Cham Roeun, JR, Slick, Sambo and Black—was heading by bus to perform at a four-day conference on illegal drugs. This same group visited Mexico last year, Kay Kay said.
It’s not all about breakdancing for Kay Kay. “Not all kids can become breakdancers,” he said. “Education and the dreams that they have—we will help them.”
Although those who come to Tiny Toones do so for different reasons, most “don’t have good homes,” he explained.
“Some are poor, some are neighborhood kids, some are orphans, some used to be on drugs,” he said, gesturing with a tattoo-covered arm and admitting that he, too, used to use drugs.
The trip is an opportunity for the kids from Tiny Toones to learn about other things.
“It’s just some new stuff for them to learn; to experience things in life and how other countries are running stuff,” Kay Kay said.
In the US, the seven Tiny Toones trainees, most of whom have been with the organization for years, will be accompanied by the administrative director of Tiny Toones, Kay Kay said. The group will take in the sites—including Disneyland—as well as show off their hip-hop skills, he said.
They might even do both at the same time.
“They’re so happy right now, they got off the plane and started battling,” Kay Kay said, using the term for a breakdancing competition.