The city commonly called “Akko”, but also known as Acre, is a city in the northern Israel at the northern extremity of Haifa Bay. Akko, a mixed city, that includes Jews, Muslims, Christians and, benefits from one of the very rare natural harbours on the coast of Israel, this location helped it become one of the oldest cities in the world, continuously inhabited since 4000 years ago.
Despite UNESCO’s declaration of Akko’s Old City as a World Heritage Site, the largely Arab populated community still suffers from neglect and lack of attention.
The Ayalim village in Akko was founded in 2007 to help bring entrepreneurs and investors to this beautiful historic city. The objective is to populate the Old City of Akko with students, by renovating abandoned buildings in the area and promote values of community work and Jewish-Arab coexistence. Ayalim aims to change the image of the Old-City and draw young people to the area.
Located in the heart of the Old City of Akko, is a unique both architecturally and socially Ayalim Student Village. There are currently 18 students and 8 pre – army volunteers living in six renovated structures in the Old City. The students study in different colleges and universities in the area including Haifa University, Technion, Western Galilee College and Ort Brauda College.
The Village is inspired by the diversity within the city of Akko, and focuses on activities that attract both Jews and Arabs alike with the aim of creating co-existence reality. The students and volunteers are working together with the local community to develop the entrepreneurial potential of Akko’s heritage status by working on projects that promote the development of tourism and local business venture.
The students volunteer in various projects in the city. The heart of the students’ activity is the Ofarim family center, an enrichment center that offers a variety of informal educational activities and services to meet the needs of the community. The students run after school activities for children and help them with their schoolwork. Most of the children who attend the center are Arab. Therefore, Arabic speaking students from Perach tutorial project volunteer in the center along with the Ayalim students. Many of the Ayalim students have begun to study Arabic in order to communicate better with the residents.