Janine Egger: Giving something back to others is a joyful experience

Jan. 2022

You never get a second chance to make a first impression – an old adage that is just as applicable to individuals as it is to organisations. Just like the way people dress, your corporate design – with its defined colours, imagery and fonts – creates a first impression regarding the values and identity of a brand. This is the task looked after at the PATRIZIA Foundation by Janine Egger, who previously studied photography and art in Paris. Janine, who has been supporting the foundation on the operational side since 2021, has been working with colleagues on the ongoing visual development of the brand. As daughter of the founder of the PATRIZIA Foundation, Wolfgang Egger, she is intimately familiar with the activities of the organisation. She has been an active member of the three-strong Foundation Council for more than a decade and, like no other, is a testament to the important approach of the PATRIZIA Foundation of thinking and working in terms of generations.

Which PATRIZIA KinderHaus facilities have you visited until now?

I’ve been to all of the PATRIZIA KinderHaus facilities in Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, but also India. Of the 19 facilities around the world, I’ve visited all but three in person – some more than once.

Is there a particular memory that sticks out after coming home from one of your visits?

I have many a fond memory of our new girls’ home in Porayar, in southern India. There are about 300 girls living there, between the ages of five and 17. Many of them are half-orphans or have no parents, and all come from poor or difficult family backgrounds. Despite that, or perhaps even because of the troublesome circumstances they grew up in, they’re so incredibly cheerful – it’s contagious, and the amazing way all the girls pull together is so moving. It’s like one big family.

What makes you say that?

It’s like in a family, where the older children take care of the younger ones. It starts in the morning when the older girls help the youngsters get washed and dressed. And it carries on that way all day. They take care of each other on their way to school, they keep an eye out to make sure everyone’s following in class, and they help each other with homework. And like big sisters, they’re there to help with the big worries and the little worries. I think it’s awesome. It melts the heart.

PATRIZIA Child Care Porayar - Mädchen gives food
PATRIZIA Child Care Porayar, Indien - Sabine Schillinger-Köhne shares birthday cake
PATRIZIA Child Care Porayar, Indien - Girls in class

Everything at the facilities of the PATRIZIA Foundation revolves around the children. What do they learn at the facilities?

Simple: that the future belongs to them. The children at our facilities learn that they do count and that they’re an indispensable part of their society and our society. By working with our partners we empower young people to be more in charge of their lives, which also enables them to shape their own destinies. They realise what they’re actually capable of, they become more self-confident and they see themselves from a different angle. All the PATRIZIA Foundation does is support that process, in the background.

How do you explain to people what the foundation does and what it stands for?

Our goal is to give children access to an education. It’s the only way to break through the vicious circle of poverty and lead a life of self-determination. The role of the PATRIZIA Foundation in that is to act as a catalyst, for example by using the money it invests in new schools. Building and running the schools in the long term is taken care of by our local partners. This allows us to ensure that a sustainable community comes together on a local level and that we empower people to look after themselves.

And what do you say to people who ask why they should support the PATRIZIA Foundation? What’s the key point of difference for you?

I think the PATRIZIA Foundation is very special. First of all, it promises that every donated euro is channelled directly into one of our projects – whether it be one euro, ten euros or ten thousand euros. The reason they can say this is that 100 per cent of the foundation’s administrative costs are paid for by PATRIZIA. And also, the foundation takes responsibility for each project for at least 25 years, and this becomes a prerequisite for making a difference in the long term.

What makes us different is that the work we carry out at the foundation is across the board. We’ll consider a whole variety of projects and try to see what help is needed, where and in what way. To do that, you need to find the right partners to work with on a local level so they can take care of the infrastructure and inject life into the project.

Is there an example of a project that stands out because of the way the foundation really made a difference?

I think our school in Buyamba in Uganda is a good example. In 2010, we completely refurbished and extended the school. It used to have 400 pupils and now it’s got 800. And since then the foundation has upgraded the sanitary facilities and the water supplies, so now the school’s become a place for people to meet up – a kind of community centre, like a town hall, an open market and sports ground all in one. Acting as the new point of focus was invaluable when we helped the school during the coronavirus pandemic. The aid we provided through the coronavirus fund was available extremely quickly, so we were able to provide the residents with food and disinfectants.

Lots of young people are now involved in the school climate strike movement and climate protection. Are you involved in any way in this area?

I think it’s great that so many people are involved in the movement. Creating a basis for young people to become involved in climate protection – that’s definitely something we do, because obviously, you’re only interested in the future if you have a future to look forward to. And that’s exactly what we strive for at the PATRIZIA Foundation, by opening the door to a better life for the children at our facilities.

Are there any foundations you look to for inspiration, like role models?

There are lots of foundations I like the look of, and they also make an amazing impression on the outside world. I’m certainly inspired by them, but ultimately we want to set our own standards at the PATRIZIA Foundation.

What are your goals for the future?

For me, the foundation is a long-term undertaking. I hope we can support more and more children, and that we keep finding better and better ways to help them. Though at the end of the day, it’s not just about giving them a good education, it’s also important to give them a proper chance of finding a job and earning money. The more children we hold a hand out to, the more likely we are to improve life on a community level – overall, for everyone. The foundation has reached out to more than 250,000 children since its inception. Though compared to the beginning, we’re a lot bigger now, we’re stronger and more professional. So we’re thinking anything but small. We want to have a big impact!

What motivates you on a personal level about your work for the foundation?

If, like many people in Africa, you live in poverty and have a family to support, it’s an uphill struggle just surviving. I’m one of the privileged in not having to fight that particular battle. The personal values that stand out in my life are gratitude and a desire to act with respect and decency. For me, that includes being committed to others. Personally, I derive pleasure from being able to give something back to others through my work with the PATRIZIA Foundation – and actively doing something to make the world just that little bit better.

Interview conducted by Andreas Menke

Janine Egger

Janine Egger was born in Augsburg in 1991. After school, she studied fine arts and photography. She graduated from PARSONS School of Design. She received in 2015 the Honorable Mention from the International Photography Award (IPA) in Category People. After working for Artist Oliver Rath she worked as a freelancer in the design field, founded COMMON Instincts with fellow students from school. Janine has worked for creative projects such as the TEST Kitchen, MY Sappho and Vans as a freelancer. She now works for the PATRIZIA Foundation on creative projects and visualization images of images in projects.