For many of us reigning from large cities like Denver, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and even Kansas City, Lincoln is a quiet college town with little to worry about except Husker game night traffic. However, for activists such as Paul Yates, this type of city is perfect for hiding human sex trafficking pimps and victims.
Yates is the first executive director of I’ve Got a Name, a statewide, faith-based nonprofit organization based in Lincoln, Neb. Yates, who just entered his position this spring, comes with eight years of experience working for Tiny Hands International.
I’ve Got a Name was founded as a 2010 awareness event by Bob Burton, senior associate athletic director for the University of Nebraska. After learning about the One Girl Prayer Initiative Yates was running through Tiny Hands International, Burton paired with Yates to raise awareness and resources to fight sex trafficking in Southeast Asia through Tiny Hands International.
According to the I’ve Got a Name website, “The event was repeated again the following year, and the combination of these two events resulted in raising funds to rescue more than 2400 girls … ”
In 2012, I’ve Got a Name transformed into a nonprofit organization.
Statistics, shares Yates, are difficult to pin down because not everyone reports what they do or what happens to them, usually out of shame and embarrassment.
“On the Estimation of Sex Trafficking Victims in Nebraska,” a 2015 feasibility study report by Dr. Ron Hampton and Dr. Dwayne Ball for the University of Nebraska, reported “the known number of Nebraska school girls who become victims of sex trafficking is at least 45 per year.”
Burton, Yates and the rest of the I’ve Got a Name staff work to fight this hidden issue in our city through prayer and awareness events, such as the annual No Girl for Sale Walk. Held Oct. 8 at Tower Square, registration costs $15. Yates explains, “You can register as late as the day of the walk, but Sept. 23 is the last day to register to ensure a guaranteed shirt size.”
In addition to No Girl for Sale, Burton also initiated DecemBeard, which is intended to help raise funds for fighting sex trafficking, involving protecting girls and stopping the demand.
“That’s where prayer comes in, in an incredible way,” passionately enthuses Yates. “I [alone] can’t do anything about this, but I know a God who can. He can use me, and He can use you in mighty ways.”
Yates just spoke to the Tiny Hands/Amnesty International Club at Union, sponsored by associate professor of English and communication Chris Blake and led by junior international relations major Latifer James, who will promote and seek sponsorships for the No Girl for Sale Walk.
Additionally, expert flamenco guitarist and adjunct guitar instructor at Union College Daniel Martinez, will host an I Got a Name benefit at the Berean Church on Dec. 1. This benefit will illustrate the realities of the city and state, focusing on three key themes: chaos, rescue/protection and hope.
“It’s a celebration of what God has done with I’ve Got a Name and what we can do to make a difference,” Yates concludes. You don’t need to be a Christian to be involved.”
For more information about the organization, or how you can be involved—whether through donations, volunteer assistance, or hosting events—visit http://ivegotaname.org/ or contact Yates at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stefani Leeper is a senior studying communication.