Local author helping underprivileged in Mexico

ROUSES POINT In a thought-provoking book by local author Raquel Rodriguez Young, readers are posed the questions, Are You Fortunate? In her book of the same name, Raquel takes what she has learned in her young life to educate others about how many of them are better off than those across the world. Though born in the United States, Raquel was raised in Mexico by her father. It was there she came to learn much about her rich Latin American heritage and also of the way women are reviewed in todays society south of the border. Girls always had to look nice and just know how to cook and attract a husband, said Raquel Young. I just didnt agree with how women are treated. I dreamed of getting married and having kids, but that wasnt my only dream. Upon finishing high school at the age of 18, Raquel returned to the U.S. where she struggled to master the English language and continued her education at Sul Ross University in Alpine, Tex. Graduating in 1995 with a degree in elementary education, Raquel had decided she wanted to begin by helping many children along the Texas-Mexico border learn English. Having grown up speaking Spanish as her primary language, Raquel knew all too well how difficult it could be learning the Englishs complexities. I remember seeing that same look on their face that I had when I learned, said Raquel. That was my inspiration to help them. Fast forward a few years later, Raquel still felt that same need to help those of her familys native land, many of whom do not have the modern conveniences found in the U.S. In 1998, after moving to the North Country with her husband Michael, she began working on Are You Fortunate? though its story line changed from its original focus. Initially, I had a different idea for the book altogether, said Raquel. I wanted to focus on the traditions and old legend of Mexico. But, after trying to find books about Mexicos culture, I couldnt find anything that truly told the story. Having two sons of their own and adopting a third, Raquel and her husband wanted to educate their children about their heritage. I wanted my boys to be exposed to my side of the family and where I grew up, said Raquel. Here they were born having everything, and that was very important for me. But I wanted them to value what they have. From there, the evolution of what Are You Fortunate? is today came to be. Over the course of the next seven years, Raquel visited family in her hometown of Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico, where she traversed the countryside learning more of neighboring families. In one of her trips, Raquel took clothes to a less fortunate family, whose house, coincidentally, is pictured in her book. It was in speaking to that family, she said, that she came to know an elderly woman not far from their home. The woman lived alone and had very little material possessions. Even though she really had nothing, she was really happy, said Raquel. Thats what impressed me most. Of all the things Raquel asked the woman she needed, there was only one thing clean drinking water. With that catalyst, the mission for her book to serve a higher purpose was born. Raquel not only featured the woman, Petrita, in the book, the proceeds from Are You Fortunate? helped her to receive the clean water she desperately needed. Petrita passed away this spring, leading Raquel to explore new avenues to where her books proceeds could go. Since then, money has gone to support orphanages, help a young boy receive much-needed eye surgery and help a poor mother of premature twins with her medical bills. One heart-warming story is that of nine-year-old Jasiel, who is being raised by his elderly aunt and uncle in Allende. The young boy, Raquel said, is very intelligent for his age and has a love of computers, though his family is unable to afford to send him to school, let alone such an extravagance. Enter Raquel and her family. Through more proceeds from her book sales, Raquel was able to not only send Jasiel to school, but was able to purchase him a laptop computer of his own. It wouldve been a shame for him to throw that away because he couldnt go to school, Raquel said. As her book continues to sell, ideas of how she can help others with her book grow, leading Raquel to know how truly fortunate she is. Though her book is not yet available locally, Are You Fortunate may be found on-line at www.amazon.com and at her personal Web site, www.areyoufortunate.com.

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