Dr. Sylivia Tsitsi Juta’s involvement with SowHope started all the way back in 2007, just over a year after the organization was founded. Working as a high school teacher in Zimbabwe, Sylivia had come to the U.S. to further her education, obtaining a master’s degree in Public Administration at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) and eventually a PhD in Public Administration at Western Michigan University. Sylivia met SowHope CEO Mary Dailey Brown while taking a class together at GVSU, both pursuing the same degree. “I was very impressed with the work Mary was doing,” says Sylivia, “Especially SowHope’s strategy to reach out to the poor. I had just come to the U.S. from Zimbabwe, and I knew that SowHope would make an impact, especially in Africa.” Sylivia would soon join the board and eventually become a part-time employee for SowHope, overseeing the projects and communication with partners. During her time in the states, she taught at GVSU and Trine University. She headed her own business in the U.S. as a financial planner and tax preparer. Sylivia met her husband, Papa Njai, in the U.S. and eventually moved with him back to his home country of Sierra Leone in 2017. Through her life changes, she always kept tabs on SowHope, and SowHope kept tabs on her.
In 2019, SowHope began working with Sylivia as reference to meet trusted partners who were helping women in Sierra Leone. With Sylivia’s help as a reference and project leader, SowHope has been able to impact nearly 1,000 women in 10 projects over 4 years in the country. In early 2023, SowHope knew that Sylivia would be a great fit to join the team. So, when Mary reached out about the position, Sylivia was ecstatic. “To get an opportunity to inspire women is what motivates me to work at SowHope,” she says, “Visiting the partners is the best part of my job. I enjoy seeing the impact that SowHope has on women and their families. I am also moved by Mary and Doug (husband of Mary and co-founder of SowHope), their story and the passion of the whole team at SowHope.” Sylivia’s first responsibility was to plan and lead a trip to Zimbabwe to meet several local leaders. She was a natural and the trip was fruitful. SowHope funded 5 small economic projects and plan to do more in the future.
Sylivia cares deeply about the work of SowHope. She knows that each of SowHope’s program areas – wellness, education, and economic opportunities – are equally important. “(All three) give holistic support to the women. In Africa, I see a lot of women who work very hard every day, but because they are illiterate, they do not achieve much. When they become literate, they take their businesses to another level. And wellness is important for everyone to succeed.” She also believes that, for women, being financially independent is key. “Being independent brings freedom and protection from many harmful cultural practices. When you have a means to take care of yourself and your family, you have dignity and respect.”
Outside of her new duties at SowHope, Sylivia works as a lecturer at Milton Margai Technical University in Sierra Leone. She loves dancing and running marathons (though not as much as she used to). She is married to Papa and has one handsome and smart son, Alhaji Njai. She is also a minister of the Word. She enjoys teaching the Bible and helping people to transform their lives through the Word of God. Welcome to the team, Sylivia. We are incredibly fortunate to have you on board!