INDIANAPOLIS, May 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- A team of 10 Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY) employees from Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, the United States, and Venezuela departed this week for a two-week service assignment in an impoverished area of Guatemala City, Guatemala. They are the first team of ambassadors to deploy as part of Lilly's 2014 Connecting Hearts Abroad global employee volunteer program. The one-of-a-kind program—often described as "life changing" by participants—is in its fourth year. Nine more Lilly teams of 10 employees each—representing more than 30 countries—will serve later this year in communities with great need in Costa Rica, Ghana, India, Peru, South Africa, Tanzania, and Thailand. In most of these communities, Lilly will work with Cross-Cultural Solutions, its primary partner for Connecting Hearts Abroad since the program began in 2011. Since then, more than 600 employees from diverse Lilly operations across the globe have served as Connecting Hearts Abroad ambassadors. "By working alongside local partners in some of the world's most impoverished communities, Lilly ambassadors have the opportunity to view the world through a different lens and apply their energy and passion to help strengthen communities and improve health for people in low- and middle-income countries," said Bart Peterson, Lilly senior vice president of corporate affairs and communications. Upon their return, ambassadors are required to share their experiences and insights with their colleagues with the goal of making Lilly a better, more globally aware company. Connecting programs to deepen impact Lilly increasingly is connecting and integrating its corporate responsibility programs to have even greater impact. This year, Lilly is increasing the number of Connecting Hearts Abroad ambassadors who will volunteer at global health sites associated with the Lilly NCD Partnership in India and South Africa. Lilly is working with leading health organizations in several impoverished areas in these countries to improve the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes. Diabetes, along with cardiovascular diseases, cancer and chronic lung diseases, are collectively known as non-communicable diseases, or NCDs, which disproportionately afflict people living in poverty. Thirty of the 100 Connecting Hearts Abroad ambassadors in 2014 will advance the work of the Lilly NCD Partnership by applying specialized skills in areas such as medical training, diabetes education, data management, and communications.