As the Assistant General Manager at The Village of Humber Heights retirement home, Abby Bello likes to introduce himself early to everyone who moves in. He wants to be sure they have all they need, they’re comfortable and they know they can call upon him at any time. When he met Giosune (Jo) Caminiti, Jo’s quick humour stood out and they connected instantly in a way that shows just how small the world can feel sometimes.
Almost as soon as Abby began to speak as he introduced himself, Jo stopped him.
“Wait right there,” Abby recalls Jo saying. “Where are you from? Are you from Nigeria?”
Abby laughs as he recalls suggesting to Jo that the chances of guessing correctly might be one in a million after only a few words of conversation, but Jo’s experience in Nigeria as a civil engineer was quite extensive and Abby’s voice and accent almost instantly transported him back decades to his time there. As Jo tells the story, he was considering scaling back work after he finished an airport project in Montreal when he was approached by a colleague and friend with an opportunity to lead construction of a stadium in the City of Ilé-Ifè (Ife) in Southwestern Nigeria.
Jo has always been up for adventure; he’d spent nearly a decade in the Arctic working on the creation of the North American defense system know as the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line during the Cold War. As his career was winding down, he figured, ‘why not head to Africa for another adventure?’
His experience in Nigeria was filled with interesting people, he says, and a curious education in the nuances of conducting business in parts of Africa. He speaks of the food, suggesting he’s never eaten chicken as scrumptious as he tasted there. He speaks of the beauty of the people and the landscape, but he shares little else on this day. It’s the connection he found with Abby that takes over the conversation. Here was Jo, working to help improve the city of Abby’s childhood and, many years later, here is Abby supporting the Village that Jo now lives in, along with his wife who lives in long-term care next door.
“It is such a small world,” Abby says. “It’s unbelievable and I’m so happy we made this connection.”