In August 2015 the opportunity to visit Benin was realized for us, senior lecturers of the Laurea University of Applied Sciences. Our small teacher exchange team of three represented public health nursing, midwifery and business administration. The aim of the visit was to gain an understanding of the present situation concerning women’s health and well being in Grand-Popo. We wanted to ask the women themselves to tell us about their life in order to design a realistic health promotion project.

Villa Karo kindly facilitated our meetings with the women’s empowerment groups by driving us to the villages of Logo-Condji, Togba-Aizo and Allongo. The villages representing of three different types were chosen by a Grand-Popo city official Ulrich Amouzou. His assistance and translations were really valuable to us. At the villages we experienced warm hospitality and were quite impressed by the honest exchange of views and ideas on promoting health. These visits enabled the developing of ongoing cooperation between the students and staff of Laurea University of Applied Sciences and Grand-Popo community.

Traditional coconut serving in Logo-Condji village (from left: Sari Haapa, Mika Hentunen, Kaija Heikkilä)
Traditional coconut serving in Logo-Condji village (from left: Sari Haapa, Mika Hentunen, Kaija Heikkilä)

According to the Grand-Popo development plan for the years 2013-2018 impact consultants have analyzed the situation in the department of Grand-Popo. The analysis was conducted using the seven millenium goals of World Health Organization in line with sustainable development. Based on the results of the analysis the phases of our planned project are the assessment, development and evaluation of both women’s health and the implementation of the nursing curriculum in relation to women’s health. The project is planned together with the University of Abomey-Calavi and the inhabitants of Grand-Popo community. The impact would be the sustainable development of women`s health in Grand-Popo area and the multiprofessional expertise development of the students and teaching staff of the both universities. Multicultural and international competence building of all cooperating parties is interwoven in the project.

Accommodation during our stay was kindly offered by Villa Karo. Kwassi Akpladokou, the director of Villa Karo, was extremely helpful in organizing our visit and kindly gave us an interesting presentation of Vodun. Alphonse Bodjrenou drove us safely to where ever we needed to go, also for a trip to Abomey. He patiently answered our questions and helped us with practicalities. Georgette Bango cordially guided us in all situations and her expertise in Beninese history impressed us greatly. We still long for Yvette Odjo’s delicious breakfast servings. All the staff members were incredibly kind and supportive.

Villa Karo staff smiling even on a rainy day.
Villa Karo staff smiling even on a rainy day.

Hector Sonon, a well-known Beninese cartoon artist was also staying in Villa Karo, working on his art exhibition. It was a great pleasure to make his acquaintance, he helped us see beyond our own observations and better understand the history and culture of Benin.

Thank you all for the marvelous experience. Our warmest congratulations to Villa Karo on the 15th anniversary. Besides being a flourishing cultural center, Villa Karo is indeed an important actor in promoting well-being in Grand Popo.

Merci bien et à tout à l`heure!

Sari Haapa
Kaija Heikkilä
Mika Hentunen