The Ayalim Association was founded in 2002 with the goal of strengthening existing communities and social involvement in the Negev and Galilee. The Association’s role is to revive and renew the Zionist idea in the 21st century and seeks to achieve this goal through the establishment of student and entrepreneur villages. This young social entrepreneurship fosters the connection between people and land as well as between the individual and greater society.
The establishment of Student Villages constitutes the foundation for social involvement and the creation of new permanent communities. The students in our villages integrate community building and social outreach, thereby promoting society and education in the Negev and Galilee. In return for academic scholarships and subsidized housing in the villages, each student in Ayalim volunteers with children in development towns and distressed neighborhoods, and takes part in the association’s special projects, with the understanding that the projects’ success depends on the fusion of individual needs with national objectives.
To date, there are more than 500 students participating in the Ayalim Association, living and volunteering in 11 student and entrepreneur villages throughout the Negev and Galilee. The students in these villages are already generating a tangible change in the Israeli periphery on the micro scale, and in the future of the State of Israel on the macro.
Most of the Student Villages are built within existing communities such as the development towns of Yeruham, Dimona, and Ofakim with the aim of strengthening their social and educational frameworks. However, recently Ayalim has also built its own settlement in the middle of the Negev known as Shizaf.
The Ayalim Association partners with the national Per’ach program to match university students in a ‘Big Brother/Big Sister’ mentoring relationship with local children in the communities in which the Student Villages are situated. Through the opportunity of one-on-one tutoring, the children receive specialized social and educational attention and Ayalim students personalize their service through an individual bond outside their studies and village duties, which in turn opens them to the children’s family and broader relationships in the community
The array of social activities operated by Ayalim grew out of the desire to deal with the difficulties that are part and parcel of living in the peripheral areas of the country, which suffer from low priority on the public agenda. The Ayalim Association sees social involvement as one of the most significant ways for students to connect with their surroundings and their neighbors. The Association therefore acts to foster continuous relationships between the students and various populations in the periphery. Ayalim’s students commit to giving 500 hours annually and in return they receive not only tuition and subsidized housing, but also a chance to impact the lives of over 20,000 children and youth in the Negev and the Galilee.
We invite you to come visit our villages and join us in our efforts to create a better future for the Negev, the Galilee and the State of Israel.