Boomer, a returnee rapping destiny

Since 2002, deportation back to Cambodia has become the fate of more than 200 Cambodian-Americans who lacked the American citizenship when they encountered the American justice system. Many of the deported are young people who left Cambodia when they were infants or who were born in the Thai refugee camps, having never touched Cambodian soil their entire lives.
Bunreas Pin, known as “Boomer”, is 27 years old. He was born in a refugee camp on the Thai border and arrived in the United States when he was just a baby. He has lived in Stockton, California. In 2003, he got deported back to Cambodia, in the “6th group” of returnees. Boomer is one of the 212 returnees who have already been deported back to a native country that they barely know – if not at all – when they arrive on the Cambodian soil. After his arrival, Boomer quickly realized that he couldn’t give up hope and looked forward to reconstruct a new life in Phnom Penh. Though it’s not easy at all, Boomer – in comparison with other returnees - hasn’t done too bad, even if he admits still struggling to make ends meet, support his family and the project that he has started. Boomer has created his own organization, “A+ Entertainment”, certainly inspired by the success of KK and his organization “Tiny Toons”. An artistic producer, mixer and DJ, but most of all an educator and a role model, Boomer brings off young boys from the streets of Phnom Penh, and gives them a chance or at least a ticket to the growing rap-hip-hop-DJ club scene in Cambodia. The day I met Boomer at his house, he was in rehearsal and recording session with some of the kids he takes care of: the “Khmer Tassou”, four boys who dream of being under the television spotlights and who work under the mentoring and tutoring of Boomer, an older brother or a dad they may not have at home.

Photo essay and text story: Stephane Janin