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Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith visiting Botswana
Alexander McCall Smith visiting the Tlokweng Village in Botswana
Born in Africa and a frequent traveller to the continent, Alexander McCall Smith lived in Gaborone, Botswana for a year in 1980. While in Botswana, he heard about the work of SOS Children’s Villages through friends and was keen to learn more. He went to see our Children’s Village at Tlokweng, a 20-minute drive from Gaborone and has become a regular visitor to the Village since.

Alexander McCall Smith is a professor of Medical Law and has worked in universities across the UK and abroad. Alexander became a full-time writer after the publication of his highly successful No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, which has sold over 20 million copies.

The former matron of the SOS Children’s Village at Tlokweng, Betty Mpodi (pictured), was the inspiration for the character of Mma Potokwane in the books – so Betty’s fruitcakes are now legendary. Along with his other series – including the Scotland Street novels, the Sunday Philosophy Club series starring Isabel Dalhousie, the von Igelfeld series and Corduroy Mansions – his books have been translated into 40 languages.

Alexander is also the author of short stories, academic works and over 30 books for children. In 2007, he received a CBE for his service to literature. Alexander McCall Smith lives in Edinburgh. He is married to a doctor and has two daughters.

What Alexander has to say about SOS

Betty Mpdodi, from Botswana Village who inspired character for Alexander McCall Smith novel
Betty Mpdodi was the inspiration for the character of Mma Potokwane in Alexander McCall Smith's No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series

We spoke to Alexander McCall Smith about why he is passionate about SOS Children. This is what he had to say:

“What struck me was the wonderful start children are given at the Village, often when they have suffered deeply traumatic early lives. When HIV/AIDS came along, it shattered the traditional safety net of the extended family in Africa, leaving orphaned children alone and vulnerable. These children found a loving home with SOS Children’s Villages.

Despite their difficult backgrounds, it’s wonderful to see how children thrive, thanks mainly to their SOS mothers. These are wonderful women who are deeply committed. They always have big cheerful smiles on their faces.

I’ve been impressed by how well the SOS children do in their studies, some gaining scholarships at the best schools. This success is testament to the wonderful care and encouragement the children receive from their SOS mothers and the Village as a whole.”

BBC Radio 4 

Alexander McCall Smith voiced our 2015 charity appeal on BBC Radio 4, telling the tale of orphaned twins from Zambia.



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