The Orenda Tribe: Finding the sweet spot between art and activism

Orenda Tribe
Local business Orenda Tribe focuses on supporting children through artistic activities. (Photo: Huda Dabeet/Jordan News)
AMMAN — The Orenda Tribe uses art and storytelling to raise awareness about crucial issues and to empower communities. The expansive lifestyle and arts brand promotes advocacy through art and storytelling.اضافة اعلان

“In 2015, I had been a full-time employee for 7 years, in different fields such as logistics and operations. But I felt that something is missing in my life, and this is not the career that I want,” Zaid Souqi, founder and CEO of the company, explained in an interview with Jordan News.

Souqi’s journey to developing Orenda Tribe started with his master’s degree in Madrid.

While studying in Spain, he realized that his main goal in life should be humanitarian. He took the next step of participating in a leadership program in South Africa. For three months, he volunteered with a foundation that cared for orphaned and vulnerable children in rural regions.

Souqi was inspired by the determination of the workers at the South African charity and decided to establish The Orenda Tribe.

The Orenda Tribe is a lifestyle brand, founded in 2016 that supports children by displaying their artwork on eco-friendly products.

Its mission is to empower communities through art. “We create t-shirts, stories, apparel, accessories, educational coloring books, crafts, and other products that are based on community issues and stories,” explained Souqi.

“Regardless of language, culture, and religion, art is a tool that connects communities,” the founder said.

For every t-shirt sold, The Orenda Tribe enrolls a child in a purposeful art session. In addition to selling eco-friendly products and DIY kits, the organization conducts art classes and installs murals. Every purchase helps The Orenda Tribe fund art activities in refugee camps and other marginalized locations.

For every t-shirt they sell, the company enrolls a child in an art activity that helps them express themselves creatively. (Photo: Huda Dabeet/Jordan News)

“Our mission is to raise awareness about significant issues and topics to make a change, which is done in two ways: the first one, through partnerships with institutions that serve the community, such as Save the Children and others, and the second one is through retail, which is by creating stories, products, and workshops,” said Souqi. “Currently, we are seeking to create video games.”

Afnan Barqawi, Orenda’s co-founder and director of partnerships and advocacy, is an architect by training and holds a master’s degree in project management. She joined The Orenda Tribe at the beginning of 2018.

Afnan told Jordan News how The Orenda Tribe’s concept had developed. “Everyone can notice how the project has grown,” she said.

Barqawi explained that the chosen topics are based on the communities. The main purpose of the organization’s projects is to use art and design to improve children’s lives.

“We never impose the projects,” she said. “The community tells us about the problems that they are facing, and what they want to develop and change, and our role is to build up on the existing problems, to creatively solve them.”

She added that their projects, such as decorating schools, empower communities by encouraging children to connect with one another while developing their social identities.

“It is so great to see how children interact with our products,” she said.

According to Souqi, the Orenda Tribe team uses several techniques to engage the youth in various issues and to help them develop skills, such as communication, problem-solving, teamwork, and creativity.

 Orenda Tribe sells eco-friendly apparel and other products from its flagship store in Weibdeh. (Photo: Huda Dabeet/Jordan News)

The organization was not immune to the struggles of the pandemic. “Like others, The Orenda Tribe has faced challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Souqi.

“Throughout this period we have relied on the online sales through our website, but on the other side we came up with the video games idea when we noticed how the world is going digitally,” He added that they trained Save the Children’s team in Lebanon and Egypt via video conference about how to organize and hold workshops.

Orenda Tribe hopes to expand into the future beyond their current artistic endeavors.

 “Our goal is to create a book series that include the same characters, raising awareness on many topics such as the environment, and to build partnerships with multiple institutions around the world,” concluded Souqi.

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