Shop helps rescued people


Despy Bales, owner of the Sozo Market, 665 E. Lincoln Highway, shows displays of han crafted jewelry, art, trinkets and apparel from Uganda, Zambia, Thailand, Southeast Asia and areas around the globe. Proceeds help fund missionaries in areas where human trafficking is prevalent. Sozo Market also helps fund education and medical supplies abroad.

By Keisha Howerth

A new shop in DeKalb is selling items to help those living in developing countries.

Sozo Market, 665 E. Lincoln Highway, works with missionaries to sell items made by rescued people, like human trafficking victims from China and Thailand.

“This is a project that’s been close to my heart,” said Sozo Market founder Despy Bales. “There are missionaries all over the world with no outlet to sell their products.”

Bales said the missionaries teach rescued individuals how to make products, and the money sold from the products goes to help them with medication and education.

Missionary organizations the market works with include the Rafiki Foundation, which rescues widows and orphans from African villages, and Thistle Farms, an organization in Tennessee rescuing women from prostitution.

“We’re always looking at new organizations to help sell their products here,” Bales said.

Bales has been selling these items for six years. She previously sold them in her home and at the Village Bible Church in Sugar Grove before opening the nonprofit store in DeKalb.

“Despy would hold an open house and sell jewelry,” said Sozo Market volunteer Amy Nordell. “She thought it’d be a great idea to have a store to sell products all the time instead of around Christmas time.”

The store is run by volunteers and friends of Bales who share her passion to help.

“We want to change a life by giving back and providing hope,” said volunteer Cheryl Yates.

Nordell hopes customers become aware of what’s going on globally and help out those in developing countries.

“As a mom of two kids, I can’t necessarily travel to another country to help out,” Nordell said. “We can give back to them even in a small way through our store.”

Yates said the store’s success comes from word of mouth.

“It’s neat to see the response from the community,” Yates said.