As director of the organization iDROPS, Jens Depelchin is dedicated to social innovation through developing a wide range of skills, from the arts to technology and business. The organization’s work with refugees reflects its mission to offer people creative ways to overcome challenges and disadvantages. With the support of the U.S. Embassy in Belgium, he initiated a program that provides young members of immigrant communities with opportunities to develop skills that improve well-being and support their professional lives.
Jens wishes everyone had the chance to develop their natural skills and interests, especially young people. Jens has experienced for himself that having this chance can lead to greater confidence and a stronger sense of self. “Identity for me is not about being Flemish or Belgian or American. I am who I am, and I believe in my own talents and passions,” he says. “Every person possesses that, but not everyone gets the same chances to use their talents and characteristics.”
“Over the years I have developed a strong sense of empathy,” Jens says. It has led him to activism that blends community engagement and creativity. Jens and his team at iDROPS use innovative projects to empower people facing disadvantages. “I like to support people in using and developing their talents,” Jens says.
“The world is in constant flux,” Jens says. “For some people, those changes can be overwhelming or threatening.” As social innovators, the iDrops team works to improve people’s sense of well-being through projects that involve education, ecology, healthcare, and building diverse and inclusive communities.
The creative process and the positivity is very important for us…. that is iDrops! Jens’s search for new ideas and projects has naturally led to collaborations with other nonprofit groups. “As a socially engaged agency we try to find innovative solutions, together with the people we work with,” Jens says.
A collaboration with the US Embassy of Belgium led to “We4Talent.” Jens’s team held workshops in the city of Vilvoorde to promote youth employment through teaching storytelling, intercultural skills, and entrepreneurship. Participants were members of refugee communities and represented diverse ethnic backgrounds.
The “We4Talent” project was very important to us because it allowed youngsters to develop their own talents and use their passion to create their own projects. They could choose their own project. It could be making your own video or writing your own song or developing an app, or starting up your own business … It can be anything!“Collaborating with the U.S.Embassy was an amazing project – actually one of my favorites!”