Tiny Toones, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Tiny Toones Cambodia uses dance 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 programmes, 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 and DJing.
 
Located in the Tuoul Tom Poung (Russian Market) district of Phnom Penh, the main centre of Tiny Toones has several classrooms, a computer lab, open space for dancing, a music recording studio, and dormitories for the peer mentor staff. With its recent move in addition to expanding its presence to two additional outreach sites, the program grew from reaching 500 youths monthly to over 3,500 within a year.
 
Tiny Toones currently staffs four outreach sites, three of which operate in partnership with Women’s Network for Unity (WNU). These three sites are Ra Rote Pleung, Svay Pak, and Tuol Kok.
 
The majority of all Tiny Toones participants are among the most marginalised and discriminated youth of Cambodian society. Due to Cambodian cultural norms, children who live without both healthy parents employed in socially respectable occupations will face numerous difficulties and struggle to find acceptance from peers.

Many of the children of Tiny Toones come from broken families, and have siblings who are active drug users, or parents who are sex workers. Because of their humble economic status, students are prone to dropping out of school and labouring in unhealthy, low-paying jobs – such as sorting through rubbish for cans, shining shoes, and selling books – to pay for bare necessities.
 
Please see their website for more information.

 AfID volunteer and Tiny Toones Cambodia