The real help comes from within - The story of our beginning
Justice and sustainability are the main values which Art Meets Education embodies. Nico Klein-Allermann, born and raised in Germany, has a strong attachment to the Philippines through his Filipina mother. After studying photography and education, he initiated the first project of Art Meets Education in Manila - Olandes Marikina.
Photography is his life and profession. His interest as a freelance photographer includes socially and structurally discriminated people. In his works, one is confronted with the moving and gripping biographies of his subjects. Looking at his photographs, one inevitably becomes sensitized to the “lives of others”. However, for Nico, simply moving people on an emotional level, which is often fleeting, was not enough. A moment of sympathy alone cannot change the lives of his subjects. Upon realizing that through his photographs alone he was not able to positively affect the lives of his subjects, he, together with Jana Seibert, established AME in December 2016.
Many people wish to somehow help make the world a better place. However well-meaning the intentions are, the endeavor often turns out to be a greater challenge than expected and fails starting with the most basic question of whom can be helped and more importantly, how. The foundation of AME is sustainability: AME strives for long-term changes. The only way we see, in which change can happen long-term is through education. Education is a necessary step towards self-reliance. Education enables breaking through hardened structures and living conditions - it is the first vital step towards a life with a future.
As a child, Nico travelled to the Philippines every two years to visit his relatives. There he often played with his cousin, Timothy, who lived in a slum next to his grandmother’s house. In the slum, they would get something small to eat at a nearby barbecue stand. Running the stand was a boy the same age as they were named Jonny. As Nico turned thirteen, so did Jonny. Nico was already in high school. Jonny sold barbecue. When Nico turned nineteen, he received the highest level of a German high school diploma. Jonny still worked the barbecue stand. Today, Nico is an independent photographer, has a university degree, traveled throughout the world and experienced a tremendous amount. Today, Jonny is still standing on the same street corner, selling barbecue. Perhaps the greatest change in Jonny’s life is the addition of several of his own children. Before the first project in the Philippines was launched, Nico recalled that this awareness of his privileges - having access to education and the freedom to develop as a person - was the moment that everything changed for him. Nico’s current successes in life are less about his innate creative skills and more about the simple luck of being born in a country that afforded him the opportunities to develop - unlike Jonny.
Equipped with only the hope to affect positive change and with a vision without a particular master plan, Nico managed to create the first project in Manila in August 2016 and ten children received the opportunity to finance their education through their photography.