Brown Lenses Happy in Burundi Video

(released 5/8/2014)

New York-based Cinematographer Jesse Brown has returned from a shoot in east Africa. Brown was commissioned to create a visual representation celebrating the expansion of the Akilah Institute in Burundi. The song "Happy" by recording artist Pharrell was used as the sound track for the school's inauguration.

Akilah Institute is the only higher education for women in Rwanda and Burundi. The Institute is accredited by the Rwandan government and targets lower income students. The majority of women attending the institute are the first in their family to go to college. Many women's work outlook is in subsistence agriculture and they will earn less than $2 a day. Most women attending the institute are directly effected by the loss of one or both parents.

Akilah Institute was founded by Elizabeth Dearbourn-Hughes of Tampa, Florida. The educational experience serves as a bridge for low income earners to private sector better paying jobs that are rapidly available, but lacking qualified individuals to fill positions. Creating market relevant skills is the drive behind the curriculum which is focused in the areas of hospitality, information technology, and entrepreneurship. Team-based learning, critical thinking, leadership development and the application of these skills are foundational for the women's future positions as community and business leaders. The first campus was opened in Rwanda in January 2010 and has proven successful at producing a workforce that equated to a 100% job placement rate upon graduation of the first class.  In September 2013, the institute was able to bring their offerings to women in Burundi and began classes in January 2014. The institute is Hughes' formulated solution to help rebuild the economy in an area that saw genocide twenty years ago.

Jesse Brown traded up a lucrative snowboarding magazine to follow his intuition of making a real difference with his art of storytelling. Jesse says he is "compelled by real people". To listen to Jesse Brown speak of his experience in Burundi, you get an understanding that he enjoys tapping into and capturing any range of emotion.  Brown seeks harmony, pursues optimistically, and demands a lot of himself and in turn of his associated crew.  The Happy in Burundi collaboration project is an example of Brown's ambitions to be both artistic and socially of service.

Below is the "Happy in Burundi" video embedded in the website.  For more information on the Akilah Institute and the efforts being made for women in Burundi:

Jesse Brown formed and owns Brown continues to fill his schedule with commercial production work, web series creation, and independent film. To follow Jesse Brown or to see some of his other work, go to

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