Founded as a development town in the 1950’s, just 30 kilometers south of Beer Sheva and 30 kilometers west of the Dead Sea, the small city of Dimona is a diverse and dynamic community that has suffered for decades from socio-economic distress and a poor public image. The population of 30,000 has risen and fallen with the challenges of immigrant absorption as well as large rates of youth emigration due to the lack of employment opportunity in the area.
The Ayalim Association recognized the need to establish in Dimona a framework that enables its young population to invest in the city’s social and educational potential and thus created a Student Village there in 2006. The Dimona village, the second village ever established by Ayalim, was built by the Ayalim students in a special 48-hour operation during the Passover holiday.
Today there are 30 students and 7 pre-army volunteers living in caravans and permanent houses in the the village compound purposely located in one of the city’s most attractive outskirt areas that demonstrate Dimona’s great potential for providing an excellent quality of life.
Together, the Ayalim students and pre-army volunteers have become an increasingly integral part of the city’s educational and cultural fabric. They work with children and teenagers at-risk, renovate disadvantaged neighborhoods and initiate cultural activities for the local community. The everyday interaction between the local community and the young, motivated students, who choose to live in the periphery in spite of all its problems, strengthens the self-esteem and capacity of the local residents.
Ayalim strongly believes that the presence and involvement of young university students in development towns can be a powerful and positive force for change and bridging social gaps. Therefore, the Association aims to attract young people to come and live in the Negev, and in Dimona in particular.