Words Alia Fawaz
Heartbeat is a Lebanese NGO that was founded in 2005 by a group of doctors and musicians with big hearts to help children who are born with congenital heart disease. To date operations have been performed on over 2,200 such babies with the support of the Heartbeat team, as well as thanks to generous donations and the money that is raised each year at Heartbeat’s concerts. Dr. Jad Habib is a pediatric cardiologist and a member of the Heartbeat committee. He is also a seasoned musician who plays the piano at its concerts. For nearly six months, a dedicated team of doctors, engineers, lawyers, and other professionals meet twice a week and rehearse for the annual Heartbeat concert.
The professionals who perform for Heartbeat know too well the therapeutic benefits of music. Habib points out that the first doctor in Greek mythology was also a musician. He explains: “Music therapy affects mood, sensation, and helps combat depression. It plays a big role in the physiology of a person.” He says: “This year the theme is around the world. We will perform songs from different countries.” You can expect to see the dirbakeh, tabl, and the buzuk representing Lebanon, and one doctor will also be playing the bagpipe from Scotland at the Heartbeat concert that will take place at BIEL on April 23 and 24.
When Habib is off-duty and not rehearsing for the concert, he is most likely on his motorbike exploring the mountains of Lebanon. Being out in nature is another way for him to unwind and to escape the pressures of work and urban living. “The purity of nature – away from the toxins, chemicals, sound and noise pollution – is so important,” he stresses. In fact, being in nature has been scientifically proven to lower one’s blood pressure and regulate the hormones. Habib and his biker buddies often enjoy going to places such as Dhour Shweir, the Bekaa Valley, Faraya and the Ammiq Nature Reserve, which is known for its natural lakes.