Lod gets a lift from urban decay that has characterized the city for so long with the influx of college students determined to make a change.
Just 5 minutes from Ben Gurion airport, Lod was filled with abandoned buildings, crime and poverty until a few young Israelis committed themselves to rebuilding areas and undertake projects to revitalize this traumatized city.
Ayalim is an organization founded in 2002 that has built “student villages” around the country, sometimes out of shipping containers, to house students and former soldiers in their efforts to improve run-down areas with diverse volunteer projects. The shipping container village in Lod should be completed in the summer of 2014.
In total, there are 14 of these student villages being built in the Negev and the Galilee. The students engage Israeli and Arab children in the communities in various mentoring activities in return for subsidized housing and tuition reimbursement. In a recent press release, Ayalim says it will transform Lod from a “city of shooting” to a “city of students.” The housing will be a home to 130 students, although there are 900 who have applied.
Ayalim hopes to be a model for similar projects worldwide, and may restore communities abandoned to urban blight. Finance Minister, Yair Lapid, will inaugurate the new student village in Lod when it is completed.