it all Started…
While serving in the Peace Corps as an English as a second language teacher to middle school and high school aged students in Mabule village, Nick and Sego made an instant connection. While working on a secondary Peace Corps project where Nick successfully raised funds and constructed a community hall for the village, they worked together to build the villages’ first hall of its kind. Eventually Peace Corps withdrew from Botswana in 1998, and Nick, being the last from his volunteer cohort to remain in country as Peace Corps was preparing their withdrawal, remained to see through the successful transition of ownership of the community hall to the VDC. During this time he continued teaching at Mariba Community Secondary School, and shortly thereafter, Nick and Sego married. Before long, They were off to Hawaii to further their education.
While in Hawaii, they made several trips to Botswana and the reality of the AIDS epidemic become shockingly apparent as it was ravaging through southern Africa. In the late 90’s and throughout the new millennium, Botswana was, according to WHO, number one on the list as having the most people either infected with HIV or living with AIDS per capita. It became the number one reason people aged 15-50, the most productive and capable, were dying. This was compounded by learning that close friends of theirs in Mabule had passed away leaving their children behind with virtually nothing.
Upon completion of their undergraduate and graduate coursework in the islands, Nick and Sego became overwhelmingly compelled to do something to help the children and youth left behind in the wake of such devastating disease and poverty. They returned to Washington DC and formed SOCOBA. Today, their aim is to create a youth mobilization center and provide supplemental education, HIV/AIDS prevention and youth empowerment programs and strategies, for youth living with disabilities, at-risk, and vulnerable or orphaned by HIV/AIDS. SOCOBA is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit corporation based in Washington DC USA and operating in Mabule, Botswana. Co-founder Sego Seferian, has witnessed firsthand the impact of this global pandemic and felt the personal loss of her own brother to the battle against HIV/AIDS. This family loss and the countless loss of others close to her, in tandem with witnessing a generation of HIV/AIDS orphans growing up with a multitude of needs, propelled the formation of SOCOBA.
A native southern California surfer, adventure paired with serving others has always been part of Nicks’ mindset. His twenty year teaching career started while serving in the Peace Corps, where he taught English and constructed a community hall for the village he served, Mabule. Nick’s next wave of experience led to the Hawaiian Islands where he taught high school and earned a Masters degree in Teaching English as a Second Language, followed by working as a resource teacher for students with disabilities in the Washington area. While in Hawaii, he and his wife Sego made several trips to Botswana and discovered that the AIDS epidemic was ravaging southern Africa, and Botswana was one of the countries hardest hit. It was this realization that overwhelmingly compelled them to dedicate their lives to help the orphans, vulnerable, and youth with disabilities left behind in the wake of disease and poverty. Nick’s international experience and leadership has led to several of SOCOBA’s international and domestic partnerships, and he is currently serving as the organization’s program manager working towards implementing SOCOBA’s water initiative and Prevention Through Community Engagement campaign.
Co-Founder and President
Sego has spent the past two decades working in the non-profit sector in both paid and voluntary roles advocating for those living in underserved and marginalized communities, where even minimal access to quality health care and information is limited. For over a decade, her focus has been on providing access to scholarships and working with families so they can gain access to services and programs they need in order to grown and thrive. Along with her intimate knowledge and direct community involvement in Mabule, Sego's passion and understanding of building relationships within all levels of the community guides the direction of SOCOBA. Sego graduated Cum Laude from Hawaii Pacific University with a BS in Business Administration and has completed coursework in the Executive Masters degree program in Health Systems Administration at Georgetown University. Sego is currently working on the Prevention Through Community Engagement campaign designing a focus group session in Mabule early next year.