What is Projects with a Heart?
Projects with a Heart (PwH) is a global grassroots movement established and run by employees, and endorsed by PMI. Its internal platform enables all willing employees to donate their time and skills to benefit people in need.
It is a 100 percent voluntary and independent charitable association. PwH aims to make the world a better place by creating a digital bridge that connects those who need help with those who want to help—without anyone in between.
Supported by a network of over 100 volunteering ambassadors across the globe, PwH is proving that companies don’t change the world—people do.
Spain: Arepas for Madrid
The Projects With a Heart logo appears on screen, along with the words Projects With a Heart.
Soft music plays in the background
Cristian Contreras is seen walking into a chicken shop in Madrid to purchase some chicken.
I’m originally from Venezuela. I am in love with Madrid. It is a city that is loved easily. It welcomes you as an immigrant. You are never alone.
My name is Cristian. I am a sales rep at Philip Morris Company.
A caption appears on screen: Cristian Contreras. PMI.
The first time I heard of Projects with a Heart was at work. One of the ambassadors in Madrid sent an email in which she invited Spanish people to work on different projects in the midst of the Coronavirus to help people.
Cristian selects vegetables in the shop, pays for them and leaves.
I said, ‘Let’s do something that I know how to do,’ and that represents Latin American food.
Cristian is shown in a grocery shop
Do you have Latino cheese?
Shop assistant speaks:
I have Venezuelan cheese.
Venezuelan cheese? That’s great. Man, you have an entire cheese shop here.
And that’s how I came up with the idea of preparing arepas for the hospitals and organizations here in Spain.
Shop assistant speaks to Cristian:
There you have…
Shop assistance speaks:
Do you want them sweet or…
Shop assistant shows Cristian:
Savory? OK, look…
Caption appears on screen:
Employee donations to Projects with a Heart provided the funds for all of Cristian’s ingredients.
Cristian is shown preparing food.
Voice off camera speaks:
Tell us a little bit about what you’re doing right now.
I am preparing pollo mechado, a shredded chicken preparation used extensively in Latin America in arepas and other dishes.
My paternal grandmother taught me to prepare arepas. She taught me to prepare the dough, which is the most difficult part of an arepa. Our grandmothers back in Venezuela would spend up to 15 minutes kneading the dough until it was soft enough. That’s why there’s nothing like grandma’s or mom’s arepas. We are trying to do our best to imitate their cooking here.
She gave me the magic, arepa-making touch. This is the tone we want for our arepas, a nice, golden brown. Then we hit them softly and listen to determine if they’re well-cooked inside.
So many memories come rushing back to me when I see this. Everyone has their own version. No two arepas are the same. But they all share the same ingredient: Venezuelan love.
Cristian is shown writing notes on yellow post-its.
The label idea came up because we wanted people to receive a customized note.
A note reads ‘muchaa gracias por tu trabajo’ (translated: many thanks for your work).
That’s why we wrote: ‘Thanks for your work.’ After labelling them, I went personally to deliver the arepas.
A caption appears on screen:
Cristian’s project began with a simple goal. To deliver 350 arepas to an area hospital where the staff had been fighting Covid around the clock.
Photos show Cristian and medical workers receiving the arepas.
In fact, I didn’t expect it to be such a nice experience. My idea was only to deliver them, but when we got there, the nurse who was in charge – she was the head nurse – she received us enthusiastically.
A caption appears on screen:
The project was a huge success, inspiring Cristian to deliver more arepas to local hospitals, food banks and his neighbors.
People queuing in the street at a food bank. Cristian and a volunteer are seen inside the foodbank, giving food to the needy.
A caption appears on screen:
Felicia Gonzalez, Messengers of Peace Food Bank.
We serve over 120 free breakfasts here every day.
Oh wow – more than 120.
Really. You saw how crazy it gets.
We had a day of super-healthy arepas. Let’s hope everyone out there liked them.
I’m sure they did.
The experience is always wonderful. When you help, and when you give without expecting anything in return, it fills you with energy. That cosmic energy fills you and manifests itself in other, beautiful ways.
Just seeing people smiling around you, that means, ‘thank you.’
When I got home, I still had a lot of arepas, so I also gave some to my friends
A caption appears which reads: Cristian continued delivering arepas to his friends and neighbors who had recovered from the coronavirus.
It’s like buying a present for a friend. It’s the same experience, the same feeling.
You’ll have to tell me what everyone else here thinks about them.
Cristian is shown offering an arepa to a friend.
The friend speaks:
These are just so good.
Cristian is shown visiting another friend who has recovered from Covid-19.
All that matters is that you got better, and I see you’re doing great. I am really shocked to see you like this.
The friend speaks
Oh yeah, I was doing pretty bad.
It’s great seeing you as strong as you usually are.
I think that Projects with a Heart, thanks to these sorts of programs, beyond the strength that you end up finding in yourself, makes you realize.
Cristian is shown meeting healthcare workers on the steps of a hospital.
Hello. How are you doing, girls?
Healthcare worker speaks:
We are doing excellent.
It makes you realize that we all need this sort of strength and fellowship.
How have you been holding up emotionally with all that has been going on?
Healthcare worker speaks:
It is getting better.
A second healthcare worker speaks:
Gestures like this help a lot. Thank you.
And you can do projects wherever you are. It doesn’t matter the place, your origin, color, race… it makes no difference. That’s why we’re all so special.
Let’s wrap this up with a Madrid-style handshake, like the two kisses.
Cristian is shown elbow bumping the healthcare workers in a ‘Covid-safe’ greeting.
There are no borders dividing us. That’s how we should live as human beings. Live without limits.
And here, we don’t have them.
A caption appears: Projects with a Heart: Arepas in Madrid.
Projects with a Heart.
Lebanon: Beirut blast relief
Somber music plays
Caption on screen: August 4, 2020, 6:08PM
Hala Makhlouf speaks:
So my name is Hala Makhlouf. I am originally from Batroun, and I live in Mar Mikhael.
My building is 400 meters from the blast area.
Caption on screen: Hala Makhlouf
Hala speaks: I reached the blast region at 6:30 and it was impossible to reach my house there were people with wounds. Heads, arms, even belly wounds. People screaming crying. They did not know what happened. You feel like you're helpless, you can't move.
Caption on screen: After the Beirut Port explosion, projects with a heart sent out a call for donations. Philip Morris International employees around the world. Their response was unprecedented.
( Car door opens )
Caption on screen: This is the story of the difference it made in the lives of the people of Lebanon
Man’s voice speaks: The port explosion in Beirut was devastating.
Caption appears on screen: Chadi Jabak
Chadi speaks: And we were lucky enough to have colleagues in Philippines, from across all the world, who are always ready to help whoever is in need.
Caption appears on screen: Like many others in Beirut, Hala found her home destroyed by the explosion.
Hala speaks: It's been two months and a half since the blast and we're currently getting back to our homes with the help of a lot of people.
So this is my apartment. The house looked like a wreck, glass everywhere, smoke. You don't recognize the house. so many broken things.
( Sound of broken glass )
My mom's, my parents wedding, me and my sisters. This is a picture of my dad.
Marianne Hanna speaks: We felt as all the Lebanese, heartbroken devastated.
Caption appears on screen: Marianne Hanna
Marianne speaks: We were trying to do, as much as possible, something to try to help the Lebanese people, the Beirut people
We had all PMI employees helping from all over the world. They donated and we reached 100k.
Lively music plays
Caption appears on screen: In the immediate aftermath of the explosion, Projects With a Heart’s first initiative was to provide food and supplies to people in the blast zone.
Chadi speaks: We are now in Beirut in a village called Jamailiye. Jamailiye is very well known for its nightlife.
We used to have a lot of restaurant and bars.
Afif Ayad speaks: My name is Afif Ayad. I'm the founder of My People, My Responsibility.
Caption appears on screen: Afif Ayad, Founder, My People, My Responsibility
Afif speaks: It’s a group of people that have the sense of patriotism and enthusiasm for the country and they have a love for Lebanon.
Chadi speaks: The main objective of this Project with a Heart is to provide essential food and hygiene products for more than 500 families affected by the port explosion.
We are preparing and packing now the boxes of hygiene and foods.
The food here could last between three to four weeks for a family between three to four people.
( Truck and street noises )
There's a lot of damage that happened in Lebanon and we need all the resources possible so that we're able to do our job properly and effectively in the field.
It's an extremely rewarding feeling and I'm absolutely lucky to be able to make a difference in those people's life.
Caption on screen: In partnership with a local NGO, projects with a heart also put the donations to work to help Lebanon rebuild.
Live Love Beirut is an NGO that is very genuine, so we contacted them.
They guided us to this building.
This building contains 35 families that we supported in rebuilding the whole building.
Hala speaks: We were lucky enough to get Projects With a Heart to fix our building, to fix our home.
We have started getting back our walls, our stairs, our windows
( Hammer taps )
Caption on screen: The Work on Hala’s building is ongoing.
By the project’s end, the home of more than 100 people will be rebuild in time for the winter.
Projects with a heart then turned its focus to local schools.
Today we are at LWIS-CiS School, one of the schools affected by the explosion.
Shernel Madini speaks:
When the explosion happened, we were at home. Thank God
The school was a disaster, I mean all of the windows were blown out there was a little bit of structural damage. The doors blew off the hinges here. How do we pick up the rubble basically and have to rebuild everything.
Caption on screen: Shernel Mardini, Librarian, LWIS-CIS
Shernel speaks: And having the strength to do that that was very challenging. The blast and the economic situation that we're suffering from are hindering our process for ordering books from outside.
Woman speaks: Okay good morning boys and girls. today we're going to distribute new books for you.
Chadi speaks: So our main focus for today is to distribute books and stationery for more than 250 elementary students.
Caption on screen: Projects With a Heart helped distribute 600 books and 4,000 writing supplies to children and 500 boxes of food and medical supplies to restaurants.
While work continues on repairing 35 apartments.
Afif speaks: It’s part of our civic and humanitarian responsibility to give back to the community.
We would like to thank Projects With a Heart for the donations that they have done.
This makes us feel like there is always hope, and this is what we believe and what we’re teaching our students.
And this is what we believe and what we’re teaching our students.
Hala speaks: Every time you go on your balcony, you see the blast area is there.
You don’t go through this and forget it. I’m hurt, but I will always find a way to laugh.
You guys will have coffee in a bit, in my home. In my house. And this is all thanks to Projects With a Heart, and I can’t think you enough.
Marianne speaks: I want to thank all Philip Morris employees globally, who donated for this cause.
Because without this project, we couldn’t do this.
Chadi speaks: I would like to say ‘thank you’ to all our worldwide employees, who helped from the heart to support and contribute and who helped Beirut to come back again.
Caption on screen: Projects With a Heart: Beirut Blast Relief
Projects With a Heart words and logo.
Pakistan: Helping a small business
Text appears on screen with the Projects with a Heart logo, a heart shape: Projects with a Heart
Text appears on screen: Gumti Sharif, Pakistan
( Sound as man drops groceries into scales )
Text appears on screen: Mohammad Asgar, Owner, grocery store
Mohammad Asgar speaks: My name is Mohammad Asgar. There are many items in my shop like toffees, biscuits, tea leaves
And candies for kids. But we mostly have vegetables in our shop.
It requires a lot of hard work.
I cannot do that much. I cannot stay here for long due to illness. My wife is very nice. She manages everything. I only buy the stock.
Rukhsana Kousa speaks: This is very difficult work for him to do. He sometimes feels suffocated. It pains him a lot
I feel very happy to help my husband with his work because he remains ill.
This is the reason I look after and manage all the business.
Text appears on screen: Rukhsana Kousa, Asgar’s wife
Mohammad Asgar speaks: I have faced a lot of difficulties. I am ill myself. If I went to someone to borrow money, they say to mem you are ill yourself, you cannot repay it.
So, it was very difficult work.
And then the coronavirus came, which added to the worry.
Then one day Haroon came to ask about my wellbeing.
Text appears on screen: Haroon, Projects with a Heart
Haroon speaks: My name is Haroon and I have been associated with Projects with a Heart.
I have known Asgar since my childhood. I was worried about Asgar and his situation because he had recently lost his job due to the pandemic. Asgar already had a small vegetable shop. There he was hardly earning 50 US Dollars. So that was not sufficient funds for a family of five people.
Text appears on screen: Hajira Khan, Projects with a Heart
Hajira Khan speaks: Haroon identified the fact that Asgar was somebody who was in need. And we tried to formulate a sort of a plan in terms of what it is that we could do to help Asgar to revive his business and so that
He had a sustainable source of income.
We gave him basic training in terms of bookkeeping, in terms of category management, in terms of display setting, in terms of cashflow management.
Haroon speaks: He showed a lot of interest in learning new skills and he learned new skills and then replicated those skills into his business and made his business a success.
Mohammad Asgar speaks: They trained me for 15 to 20 days.
Rukhsana Kousa speaks: He taught me how and where to note buying and selling.
I note down every item which runs out of stock.
They helped us with buying grocery items. That’s what we were selling.
Mohammad Asgar speaks: They helped me a lot, and because of that I am slowly expanding my business.
Slowly we are increasing the number of items.
Rukhsana Kousa speaks: It’s because of this that I am hopeful that I will shape my future,
And take care of myself, my children, and look after my husband.
Haroon speaks: It obviously feels great to be associated with this project.
This feeling of knowing that someone’s livelihood improved because of your effort.
Mohammad Asgar speaks: My two daughters are studying. I can afford the expenses now. In future, they can get good jobs and earn a living.
My wife and children are living happily. They are my everything.
Text appears on screen: Projects with a Heart, Helping a Small Business in Pakistan. Project with a Heart Logo appears on screen
Text appears beneath: Projects with a Heart. Join Share.
Making a difference
One of PwH’s earliest projects changed the life of one young girl and her family.
Michelle, the two-year-old daughter of a former PMI employee in Tanzania, suffered severe burns following a kitchen accident in 2017.
After hearing about the youngster’s traumatic injuries, PMI staff leapt into action.
They fundraised for Michelle to travel to Switzerland to receive specialist medical treatment not available in her home country.
Fortunately, the little girl recovered and is now back home in Tanzania with her family.
How did Projects with a Heart start?
In 2017, one of the first projects was purchasing a bus for the children at the Little Saints’ Orphanage in Lagos, Nigeria. One thousand employees from 60 countries raised the money in three weeks. This project resulted in cutting out a three-hour daily walk to school and back for 52 orphans.
In November 2018, Projects with a Heart became officially registered as a charitable association.
How does Projects with a Heart work?
- Any PMI employee can submit a project aimed at helping someone in need (e.g., of food, water, housing, clothing, health, education, care and support, etc).
- Once the project is submitted and published on the internal PwH platform, colleagues can support, vote, contribute, or volunteer for it. If the cause gathers the necessary amount of votes, the project owner can proceed with its execution.
- Employees can then help by donating time, money, or skills to complete the project.
Is PMI involved as a company?
While a majority of the projects are smaller-scale, local, and employee-driven, there are also bigger global campaigns where PwH infrastructure is put to use to fundraise for a larger cause. PwH has led fundraising drives following earthquakes, floods, the COVID-19 pandemic, and other large-scale disasters. These bigger campaigns have seen Philip Morris International match or supplement PwH fundraising with a company donation.
PMI also encourages employees’ charitable behavior by granting volunteer leave to those who ask for it.
Key moments for Projects with a Heart
Little Saints’ Orphanage bus
Earthquake in Palu, Indonesia
Projects with a Heart officially established
Golden Steps School