Monday, February 1, 2010


This is a segment to honor and recognize outstanding Belizeans and their descendants for their accomplishment and contributions to life.  As a proud Belizean, I believe it is imperative that we support and promote Belizeans both at home and abroad. You are an important part of our community. We hope we can inspire our children to reach for the stars.

You can nominate a candidate for Belizean Spotlight that you believe has excelled or contributed to our life. 

Previous “Spotlight of the Month” can be found in the archives.

Dr. Arzu and her son

Isidora Arzu, M.D., Ph.D. is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.  She received her M.D. from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Texas.   After graduation, she completed her residency in general radiation oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center.  Dr. Arzu also has a Ph.D. in organic chemistry which she received from Rice University in Houston and her B.S. in chemistry from Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin. She is a proud alumna of Saint Catherine Academy in Belize City where she was truly inspired by the Sisters of Mercy and the science teachers, including Dr. Santos Mahung, to pursue a career in science and medicine.    

Isidora, “Dorita” as she is affectionately known, was born in Dangriga, the first child of Frances and Charles Arzu (both deceased). She knew from the age of 5 that she wanted to be a medical doctor and worked hard throughout her academic life to achieve that goal. It was not easy; however, it was worth overcoming the many personal, financial and emotional obstacles she faced along the way. The challenges are the same ones faced by people of color who pursue the upper echelons of academia-racism, sexism, ostracism, lack of mentorship, child care, etc. These hurdles were just a few distractions and with the support of a loving family, she was able to stay focused. 

There is a saying that if one wants to be happy for an hour, eat an apple.  If one wants to be happy for a day, then go fishing.  If one wants to be happy for a lifetime, one must give back to society.  To that end, in 2002, Dorita, along with her 6 siblings, started the CAFA Foundation in memory of their parents.  The mission of the foundation is to fund scholarships for needy Garifuna students, who despite trying circumstances, are willing to strive to obtain a high school diploma from Toledo Community College.  Given the many challenges plaguing Garifuna youth today, the Foundation is very proud of its first 2 graduates. 

Dr Arzu recently participated in her first medical mission to Belize where she and a team of African-American physicians assessed the health of the Garifuna women in Seine Bight and Dangriga. It was an eye-opening experience to see first-hand the number of Garifunas who are suffering from undertreated, untreated, uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension.  

We, the Garifuna of Central America are the direct descendants of 2000 to 3000 people exiled from Yurumei but look at what we have been able to accomplish despite mind-numbing poverty, discrimination and racism.  Dr Arzu strongly encourages all Garifuna parents to embolden their children to be proud of our rich heritage and work hard, study harder. Our children are in the midst of a technological revolution that requires them to not only consume the technology for fun and games, but, be on the cutting edges of developing the next generation.   

Dr. Arzu is the proud single mother of 18 year old Onken who graduated from Kipp Academy on May 30, 2009.  She will be sending him off to university in the fall of 2009.  In her spare time, she loves travelling, reading, cooking and watching HGTV.

She can be reached at 713.563.9100. (Written by Bernadette Arzu James)

I would like to thank Angela Palacio for allowing me access to her article on Dr. Arzu. You may visit Angela at her Website dedicated to all things Belize and Garifuna. Come by and visit if you are from Belize, Garifuna, friends of Belize or from anywhere in the world.


Daniel said...

Miss Linda,
Nice to feature our hard working Belizeans. It is something we should be very proud to do.
Most of the time,we tend to overlook the priceless contributions that others have wholeheartedly pumped into our community.
Keep on giving us the highlight about them Sister, and let us keep remembering them.
Jesus Loves You And So Do I.


Noreen said...

Thanks for bringing us this information. This is very good and I am proud of her.


Louise Crawford said...

I enjoyed the article and it is really interesting to see how far someone can go to reach their goal. I am really proud of her to see she didn't forgot her roots by helping to provide scholarships for the young people.

Nice reading and I am looking forward to the next person that going to be March Spotlight.

Linda thanks for going the extra mile to keep us informed on a lot of things that we were not aware of.

I think you should be on one of the spotlight for keeping us informed about our people places and things and most of all for all the hardwork you put into the CROOKED TREE VILLAGE REUNION. I personally wouldn't have thought about doing something like that. You are special and I love you for being who you are. I could go on forever.

Your Cuz

Angela Palacio said...

Linda great job! Nice Belizean spotlight. The pictures came out good.

Angela Palacio

Anonymous said...

"The challenges are the same ones faced by people of color who pursue the upper echelons of academia-racism, sexism, ostracism, lack of mentorship, child care, etc. These hurdles were just a few distractions and with the support of a loving family, she was able to stay focused."

Regarding this comment from the author. Those comments do not reflect the Dorita Arzu that I met nearly 20 years ago.

The Dorita Arzu that I worked with had not chip on her shoulder. She was fun, smart, funny and very positive person. Did talk a lot about becoming a doctor in a proud manner.

The Dorita that I knew never once in the brief period that I worked with her reflected any of the views mentioned by the author apply to her (racism and so, forth).

Dorita was very proud of being from Belize. I am from South America, we used to laughed about growing up living in "Coconut Trees" (joke of course).

Glad to see that her son is doing well. Remember when I was told by her that he did not wanted to speak French when he was little. I am going through the same thing with my children and Spanish.

I have family members moving to Houston this year and decided to look Dorita's name up to see what she was up to...

Great job Dr Arzu. Very proud of you and I am very glad that you realized your dream. Glad to see that your son is ...following mom's path.

From an old friend.

PS: There is racism, discrimination in every country, every society and every culture. African descends can be racist even among themselves please, do not make it unique to the USA.

Being from Belize you look different, sound different and act different from anyone in the whole Continent (North, Central and South). You are unique and fascinating culture. Loved all the stories that Dorita told me about Belize.