Positive People in Pinecrest- Sanjoy Kundun

Positive People in Pinecrest- Sanjoy KundunWhen he was in the 10th grade, Palmetto High School senior Sanjoy Kundu started Hashi 365, an outreach project in Kolkata, India to help children with dental hygiene. Hashi means smile in Bengali.

“I observed a seven-year-old child who was from the servant family that works at my grandfather’s house,” Kundu says. “He was admitted to a Bengali speaking school which is primarily for children who come from a low-income family. When I visited Kolkata, I found out the children were reluctant to smile because of the poor condition of their teeth.

About 55 percent didn’t clean their teeth and the others cleaned them with powder made from pieces of brick they found on roads.” Kundu says that as a consequence of those poor oral hygiene habits, almost half of the children had bad gums. “I thought the children needed an education about oral health,” he says.

“I’ve supplied toothbrushes and fluoride toothpaste, because families can’t afford it.”

Kundu buys the toothbrushes and toothpaste and ships them to India. He raises money to fund the purchases.

“Every year, my family hosts a garage sale. We raise money by selling baked goods and hand-made seasonal cards,” he says.

The garage sale usually raises about $1,000 and that money is enough to support 100 children at a time. Kundu’s father has connections that enable him to ship the oral hygiene products to India. The items are sent twice a year. He buys the supplies once a month — 50 tubes of toothpaste, 10 to 15 toothbrushes.

“I believe every child has the right to smile,” he says. “Our smile reflects our soul.”

Kundu is active in school activities, participating in events such as Plant the Pride and competing in Envirothon and math contests.

“I compete in the regional and state levels in Mu Alpha Theta level competitions,” he says.“I’ve done very well in the competitions. I’ve placed in the top 10 in the region consistently. In the state, the highest I’ve attained was 34th and in the region, I reached sixth place one time.”

In addition to being in Mu Alpha Theta, Kundu is a member of the Asian Culture Club, is on the Capstone board and is an officer in the National Honor Society. Kundu takes part in the Multicultural Education Center, where the students talk about multi-culture awareness and try to promote it in Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay.

“We try to meet at different locations,” he says. “One of the locations is at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. There I played the piano in order to raise funds for the citizens of Haiti who suffer from the earthquake of 2010.”

Kundu has been a member of the Asian Culture Club since he was in the seventh grade.

“As a result of being a member of the club, I’ve gained valuable skills in life,” he says.” I have become a better public speaker and learned to appreciate the arts.”

Kundu also enjoys entering piano competitions, including the District National Federation of Music Junior Festivals where he received a superior rating in the Musically Advanced II Division.

Kundu plays clarinet in the Palmetto Marching Band and in the symphonic band.

Another project important to him is the Elephant Conservation and Care Center that helps save elephants that have been abused in circuses.

“I’m raising money to save the life of an elephant named Susie,” he says. “She was tortured and blinded in a circus because she was old.”

Kundu plans to go to college and major in finance or pre-med. He is considering applying to Columbia, Duke, Princeton, the University of Chicago and the University of Miami.

By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld

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