Benatha is a small village proudly overlooking the Sapna Valley, and facing the castle of Saddam Hussein. Inhabited only by Christians, Benatha is the first village to settle in the valley. A figurehead of Christianity in the region, this village of thirty families will see its population flee since the Kurdish revolution.

When they return ten years later, their village is occupied by Kurdish forces. Their 300-year-old Assyrian Chapel, which is so precious to their eyes, is sacked and destroyed.

Zacharia, dean of the village

I remember the beauty of this chapel, the chapel of my childhood, the chapel where I received my first catechism classes, where I saw so many happy events like baptisms, weddings... to have the power to return to this land is so strong in me, a beautiful sign of hope.

It is in this context that SOS Chrétiens d’Orient, following a visit to the village at the end of August 2018, took the decision to try to rebuild this place, so important to the villagers of Benatha and the villages of the region.

Every year, all the surrounding villages meet on 15 August, the day of the Assumption, in this chapel of the Virgin Mary. Since its destruction the procession is organized on the ruins of the chapel. In the years to come, we hope that it will take place again in the chapel which will be restored in the style of 18th century architecture.

Work is progressing quickly. After a few shovels and picks, the chapel is unrecognizable. Where weeds were growing in this closed space, there are now walls of multi-centenary ochre stones.



Volunteering is a commitment for a defined period. The volunteer is committed to a mission to serve others. To volunteer at SOS Chrétiens d’Orient you must:

- be older than 18 years old

- stay for a minimum for 1 month

- being in good physical shape

- have parental agreement for a possible departure

"I ask you to be revolutionary. Have the courage to go to counter-current. And also have the courage to be happy!" Pope Francis, July 28, speech to the volunteers of the WYD, Rio de Janeiro.

"I ask you to be revolutionaries. Have the courage to go against the grain. And have the courage to be happy!"

Pope Francis,

July 28, speech to WYD volunteers, Rio de Janeiro.