The INA House, an ethnically based NGO, is a local non-profit in Chiang Mai whose funds go toward the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP). The INA House creates revenue through providing rooming accommodations, entertaining a rentable meeting room and library, and selling indigenous handicrafts and products alongside offering unique meals from the highland tribes all over Thailand.
The only workers employed by the INA House are passionate indigenous people impacted by this program who are fighting for their rights. It is located riverside, directly off of Lampun Road with an inconspicuous building front, and open daily from 8am to 8pm.
I had the amazing opportunity to listen to a presentation on the INA House background and its relationship with the AIPP projects, which truly opened my eyes to the dedication and resilience of its workers. Its goals are to promote and defend the rights of the indigenous people in the 11 countries in Asia which it operates; Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Chiana/Taiwan, Japan, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Nepal, India, and Bangladesh. They advocate and campaign for environmental issues, indigenous women’s rights, human rights, communication development, and regional capacity building.
The food they sell features the Naga, Akha, Lisu, Chakma, Karen, and Marma peoples traditional dishes. They also have organic honey and coffee beans for sale on the first floor. A large selection of handmade bags, baskets, and clothes were available for purchase at reasonable prices considering the quality and effort put into them. With free wifi and computer services, this little shop is a delicious and comfortable way to support a worthy organization. I expected a rather run down and underfunded business, as the term non-profit often implies that basically all funding goes towards the impoverished or disadvantaged people.
However, the building the INA House rents from is in really incredible condition, with polished log and rock walls, multiple stories, and outdoor balcony seating. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the INA House, and definitely intend on returning for adventurous foods.
Written by: Grace Van Kirk