In this episode, I travel back to Phnom Penh, Cambodia – one of my favorite places in the world – and sit down with my friend Kay Kay.
Kay Kay is one of the “Deportees,” those Cambodian nationals who grew up in the U.S. but were later deported back to Cambodia, to a country and even language they didn’t know.
Raised in California in a poor neighborhood amid crime, drugs, and gangs, Kay Kay was more about the breakdancing and graffiti tagging life.
However, he did fall victim to the streets and ended up spending multiple bids in prison and then immigration jail. After years of incarceration in the U.S. system, he was shackled on an airplane and deported to Cambodia.
It’s there that Kay Kay’s true journey starts, as he soon helping poor street kids who had no one else, and then taking them in. He first taught them his break dancing skills, and then offered life guidance and mentorship.
The movement grew and eventually became Tiny Toones, an international non-profit that’s still in existence today after nearly two decades, offering formal education, life skills, and even job placement.
According to their website, “Our mission is to provide a safe, positive environment for at‐risk youth to channel their energy and creativity into the arts and education, empowering them to build self‐confidence in their daily lives, aim for better employment possibilities, and feel supported pursuing their dreams.”
Kay Kay still runs Tiny Toones all of these years later, making it his life’s mission to save kids from the same gangs, streets, and temptations that almost claimed his life.
Enjoy this part 1 of my conversation with Kay Kay and feel free to check out Tiny Toones and make a humble donation at: www.tinytoones.org