Meet Tal Hanani - THE HEALING POWER OF MUSIC

Meet Dr. Tal Hanani, physician, project manager and professional musician: a percussion artist and African harp player. Tal is a member of Natan’s Core Management Team and is Natan's Medical Coordinator & Project Manager, currently leading Natan’s accreditation process as Emergency Medical Team (EMT1) by the WHO (World Health Organization). Tal joined Natan in 2015, combining her multi-disciplinary academic grounding, skills and broad experience with her passion for improving the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities in a comprehensive and integrative way.  Tal, an Arabic speaker, uses a cross-cultural approach and traditional music as another dimension to connect. She volunteered as a primary medical care physician and music therapist in NATAN's relief mission to Presevo Refugee Transit Camp, Serbia. Having led diverse multicultural community projects for years, Tal says: "Community activity is a way of life. Joining Natan and deploying to Serbia felt natural and was indeed an invaluable life experience for me. After meeting such amazing people:  individuals, who were forced into their shared destiny, I came back from Serbia with lots of questions and some answers, but more than that- with an open heart and new space in my heart and mind for active involvement – no longer standing on the sidelines.  I continue to find ways to bridge innovative and traditional thinking in addressing global development. Focusing on individuals' and community health related humanitarian challenges. Every such experience sparks an inner light where we all share mutual wishes for basic rights, freedom and health of body and mind.”    “We met Nazar, a theater teacher who had fled Syria. Nazar wanted to take part in the activity and assumed the role of producer in the camp. One evening we held a musical concert together with the active participation of camp members from all cultures. Thus, in a huge tent, everyone joined together singing and dancing – with respect for one another and for each other’s culture. There I was, an Israeli girl standing and playing traditional passages together with Abu el-Shams who escaped from Iraq, songs that we all know in the original language. Another living example of the forces connecting music - it was a moment that crossed borders and governments.”
Since Serbia, Tal has been an active member and consultant on Natan's medical development team, contributing in developing, planning and implementing of projects. [see also in this issue: WHO EMT1 Accreditation Process].  Tal continues to develop her expertise and has completed a series of professional Disaster and Emergency Management training courses. In addition, Tal recently completed her PRINCE2 (Projects IN Controlled Environments) certification. Currently Tal is attending a humanitarian health program: Health Emergencies in Large Populations (HELP) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, taught in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Prior to her medical education, Tal lived and worked with traditional communities, pursuing her musical studies in Africa, Cuba and later at the Rimon Music Academy. Today, she continues to perform and compose music.  Over the last decade, Tal founded and led community projects using music and rhythm as an additional non-verbal tool to narrow gaps between cultures and socioeconomic sectors, working towards improving the lives and wellbeing of underprivileged communities, including refugees and asylum seekers, children and elderly with communication and mental challenges, as well as patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases. Tal’s aim has been to develop tools which individuals and communities can use to strengthen themselves, increase their capacity and resilience.  In Tal’s words: “It is important to continue investing energy and deepen our knowledge. Accessing the natural, primal emotions triggered by music can help in times of stress when people are most vulnerable to disease and risk. Inside the chaos of an unknown new environment, a familiar sound or rhythm can access a whole life story: childhood, family, neighborhood, thus enhancing medical treatment.”   Last fall, while attending a musical composition residency, Tal took part in Natan's speaking events and meetings which led to ongoing partnerships and operations One meeting at the headquarters of the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees in New York City has led to new joint projects for Natan and partners.