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Artist and research residents

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Permanent workers

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Resident rooms

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University student interns

What is

Villa Karo’s purpose and function?

Since the year 2000

Villa Karo aims to build a bridge between Finnish and African artists, researchers and cultural figures. Primarily our job is to offer Finnish artists and researchers and other cultural and societal figures living in Finland an opportunity to do a residency in Africa.

 

Villa Karo was founded by writer Juha Vakkuri (1946-2019), who over the years acted as an executive director, chairperson as well as Benin’s honorary consul.

 

Villa Karo is located in Grand-Popo, Benin. Benin is a friendly country, where the strong local culture has lasted better than in many other countries. Grand-Popo is a calm fishing village, which guarantees the visitors a peaceful work life and inspiring milieu.

 

In addition to the residency, Villa Karo is a Finnish-African cultural and research center, which provides free cultural services to the local inhabitants as well as work spaces to multidisciplinary artists and researchers.

The activities of the cultural center include concerts, theatre and dance performances, movie screenings in the outdoor movie theatre, meeting and seminar spaces, a library and two museums as well as art, environment and language workshops.

 

Villa Karo’s operation is supported by the Ministry of Education and Culture and Svenska Kulturfonden.

 

Villa Karo’s board of directors:

Maria Björnberg, chairperson
Kivi Vakkuri, vice-chairperson
Riku Aakala
Matti-Juhani Karila

Jouko Koskinen
Kirsti Lintonen
Axel Sointu

Katariina Timonen

 

 

Web page’s banner photos: Sampo Kiviniemi (2018-2020).

#Agenda2030

UN Sustainable Development Goals

All
Villa Karon logo. Piirros päärakennuksesta. Alla lukee 'Villa Karo'.
VK-UN
Villa Karo's operation is in line with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. The pursuit of improving local conditions, equality and environmental friendliness is essentially present in all our activities. Read more about goals by clicking on that icon.
Link: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/
VK-UN
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No Poverty
No Poverty
Benin is an extremely poor country. Villa Karo creates well-being for its own employees and the Grand-Popo area, more broadly in Benin and West Africa.
No Poverty
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No hunger
No hunger
Villa Karo supports local farmers and other businesses by sourcing their products and bringing customers to the restaurants. There is no food waste in Villa Karo.
No hunger
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Health and well-being
Health and well-being
Villa Karo Research Center conducts research that promotes global health. Villa Karo offers its employees and their families extensive health insurance.
Health and well-being
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Quality Education
Quality Education
Villa Karo is constantly collaborating with local schools, with projects to bring girls and boys to school. Villa Karo urges its employees to educate all of their children as well as use their voice locally to speak up for education.
Quality Education
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Gender Equality
Gender Equality
Villa Karo collaborates with Beninese women's organisations and is constantly involved in the debate on girls' education. The Finnish organisation is female-dominated, in Benin, Villa Karo has not yet had equal representation of the sexes.
Gender Equality
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Clean Water
Clean Water
Villa Karo speaks in favour of clean potable water and hand hygiene. Anyone who wants to come to Villa Karo can come to a clean bathroom. Villa Karo is exploring the possibility of using its laboratory to examine the purity of potable water.
Clean Water
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Akpé-teksti
Akpé
Akpé is a cultural magazine published in Finland and contains articles in at least two languages according to the topic of each issue. Themes have been around music, nature, art, literature and communication, health, etc.
Akpé
Cultural Magazine
Clean Energy
Clean Energy
In Villa Karo, everyone is welcome to charge their phone and use the wireless internet. With the exception of the laboratory, Villa Karo does not have air-conditioned facilities, and the generator is used only in exceptional cases, and not for running an everyday life during a power outage. Villa Karo is actively exploring the possibility of switching entirely to renewable energy.
Clean Energy
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Economic Growth
Economic Growth
Villa Karo guarantees its employees fair working conditions, guarantee of wages, health insurance and paid annual leave. The economic growth in the Grand-Popo area is largely related to the presence of Villa Karo.
Economic Growth
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Innovation
Innovation
Where possible, Villa Karo promotes innovations that make people's lives easier in Benin. Villa Karo offers internet access and a mobile charging station for everyone to use.
Innovation
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Reduced Inequalities
Reduced Inequalities
The core of Villa Karo's activity is to increase global equality and through its actions contribute to the narrowing of the living standard gap between the South and the North of the world, so that people could increasingly live a more secure life in their home country.
Reduced Inequalities
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Sustainable Community
Sustainable Community
The well-being created by Villa Karo contributes to the fact that many people of Grand-Popo do not feel the need to leave to the big city of Cotonou to survive. With its best abilities, Villa Karo participates in Finnish sustainable housing projects in the Global South.
Sustainable Community
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Responsibility
Responsibility
In Benin, Villa Karo operates with local resources; local production and handicrafts. Villa Karo aims to keep its operations as simple and lightly burdensome as possible. Methods of compensating emissions from air travel are being actively explored.
Responsibility
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Climate Action
Climate Action
Since the beginning of the 21st century, Villa Karo has been organising environmental education in various forms of projects in Grand-Popo. One might remember the waste sorting barrels at the current Musée Karo and the video about recycling starring Yvette and Georgette. Villa Karo's carbon footprint largely consists of air travel: environmentally friendly travelling and carbon footprint compensation are vigorously being explored. In the coming years, Villa Karo will be fully dependent on renewable energy.
Climate Action
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Sea Life
Sea Life
Throughout its existence, Villa Karo has organised beach cleaning campaigns and education, as well as cooperating with Beninese sea turtle conservation organisations.  
Sea Life
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Pronssipantteri, häntä kiemurtelee ylöspäin.
Bronze Panther
Founded in 2001, Bronze Panther is Villa Karo's Cultural Prize. It is awarded annually to a person, company or community that has significantly promoted understanding and reduced prejudices between different cultures.
Bronze Panther
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Nature
Nature
Villa Karo has participated in discussions encouraging respect for local nature and animals. Since the beginning of its activities, Villa Karo has organised various workshops and trainings related to permaculture and composting.
Nature
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Strong Institution
Strong Institution
Villa Karo uses its own example to promote a culture of good governance in both Benin and Finland. In conflict situations, all parties are consulted, regardless of the hierarchy. There is zero tolerance for corruption and the accounts are subject to a fourfold audit in both countries before the annual financial statements. Villa Karo's organisation has diverse ethnic and linguistic groups, which promote peaceful understanding in both countries. Everyone's backgrounds are respected equally.
Strong Institution
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Partnership
Partnership
Villa Karo's operation is based entirely on a global partnership: it's motivation, purpose, means and aim.  
Partnership
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Villa Karo's

Staff

Linnea Olamo, vaalea tausta ja harmaa villapaita päällä.
Linnea Olamo, vaalea tausta ja harmaa villapaita päällä.
LINNEA OLAMO

Executive Director

Julia Autio; vaalea tausta ja valkoinen kauluspaita päällä.
Julia Autio; vaalea tausta ja valkoinen kauluspaita päällä.
JULIA AUTIO

Office Manager

Kezia Kautto; vaalea tausta ja musta olkapaita päällä, ja kultainen koru kaulassa.
Kezia Kautto; vaalea tausta ja musta olkapaita päällä, ja kultainen koru kaulassa.
KEZIA KAUTTO

Office assistant

EMONIE AYIWE
EMONIE AYIWE
EMONIE AYIWE

Intern

Kwassi Akpladokou; tummanvihreä puku ja päähine päällä.
Kwassi Akpladokou; tummanvihreä puku ja päähine päällä.
KWASSI AKPLADOKOU

Cultural Center's Director

Richard Tandjoma; palmupuu takana, värikäs paita päällä.
Richard Tandjoma; palmupuu takana, värikäs paita päällä.
RICHARD TANDJOMA

Finance Manager

Georgette Singbe; vaalea puku päällä ja värikäs päähine päässä. Kaulakoru kaulassa.
Georgette Singbe; vaalea puku päällä ja värikäs päähine päässä. Kaulakoru kaulassa.
GEORGETTE SINGBE

Cultural Manager

Yvette Odjo; vaalea paita, Yvette hymyilee ja tausta on vihreä.
Yvette Odjo; vaalea paita, Yvette hymyilee ja tausta on vihreä.
YVETTE ODJO

Chef

Agathe Béni; Agathe kantaa sylissään lasta, jolla on valkoinen asu. Yvettellä on päällä värikäs mekko ja päähine.
Agathe Béni; Agathe kantaa sylissään lasta, jolla on valkoinen asu. Yvettellä on päällä värikäs mekko ja päähine.
AGATHE BÉNI

Cleaner

Marthe Tossou; Marthe hymyilee.
Marthe Tossou; Marthe hymyilee.
MARTHE TOSSOU

Cleaner

Joachim Odjo; Joachim hymyilee ja katsoo alas.
Joachim Odjo; Joachim hymyilee ja katsoo alas.
JOACHIM CODJO

Maintenance Man

Edoh Amoussou; Edohilla on punainen paita ja kädessä puinen pitkä esine.
Edoh Amoussou; Edohilla on punainen paita ja kädessä puinen pitkä esine.
EDOH AMOUSSOU

Gardener

Papa Adanou; Papa katsoo kameraan lippis päässä ja hymyilee.
Papa Adanou; Papa katsoo kameraan lippis päässä ja hymyilee.
PAPA ADANOU

Gardener

ABDOULLAYE BOURAHIMA; Abdoullaye on puisen katoksen alla, vihreä asu päällä.
ABDOULLAYE BOURAHIMA; Abdoullaye on puisen katoksen alla, vihreä asu päällä.
ABDOULLAYE BOURAHIMA

Guard

Boubé Amadou; kädet ristissä kuvan edessä. Käsien takana näkyy Boube.
Boubé Amadou; kädet ristissä kuvan edessä. Käsien takana näkyy Boube.
BOUBÉ AMADOU

Guard

In Memoriam

Juha Vakkuri (1946-2019)

In 2000, Juha Vakkuri established Villa Karo so that that Finnish artists and cultural professionals could work in an African environment, in collaboration with locals. Africa was part of Juha’s life throughout his adulthood, he worked for the UN in Zambia and the US, and he travelled around Africa. He wanted to open the gates of the sunny continent for Finland, which saw Africa as an unknown even scary place. Villa Karo was named after Karo Vakkuri, Juha’s 15-year old late son.

Juha was not only a writer and journalist but also a visionary and realiser of large projects. Juha’s accomplishments are also recognised on a national level, as he was named Benin’s honorary consul in 2012. Above all, in Grand-Popo Juha was seen as a father figure, who could be trusted and relied up on. Juha’s death in 2019 was as if a large tree had fallen and left behind a large empty hole. Juha, with his work, had already planted many a tree which continue to grow after his departure.

Juha Vakkuri, rintakuva, taustalla seinään kirjoitettua ranskankielistä tekstiä. Kuva: Jyri Pitkänen (2015)
Picture: Jyri Pitkänen (2015)