1. What does ‘Mae Fah Luang’ mean?
‘Mae Fah Luang’ refers to the late Princess Mother, the mother of King Bhumibol of Thailand. The term translates into ‘Royal Mother from the Sky’—for the hill tribe people in the North of Thailand often saw her descend from a helicopter along with food, clothing, and medical personnel and supplies to help improve the lives of the rural people.
2. What does Doi Tung mean and where is Doi Tung?
‘Doi Tung’ is the name of a mountain peak of the Nang Non range. It is located 48 kilometers away from the city of Chiang Rai, Thailand’s northernmost province.
In Thai, Doi Tung translates into “Mountain of Flag”, while ‘Doi’ means ‘mountain’ and ‘Tung’ refers to a local flag. This mountainous terrain was originally called ‘Doi Din Daeng’ and then changed to ‘Doi Tung’ when a stupa was constructed and a flag of 2,000-wa long was used to determine the length of the area. In the past, Doi Tung was at the heart of the Golden Triangle, notorious for militia, drug cultivation, addiction, and trafficking. Click here for map
3. What is the relationship between the Mae Fah Luang Foundation, the Doi Tung Development Project, and the DoiTung Brand?
The Mae Fah Luang Foundation (MFLF) is a non-profit organization established in 1972 by the late Princess Mother committed to improving the quality of life of the hill tribe people. It was originally the Thai Hillcrafts Foundation to support the handiworks of the hill tribes. In 1985, the foundation changed its name to “the Mae Fah Luang Foundation under Royal Patronage”, expanding its activities to social and economic development for the rural poor, while fostering man and nature to co-exist in harmony. It is also the mother organization of development projects in Thailand—including the Doi Tung Development Project—and overseas, as well as the Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park, the Hall of Opium, and the DoiTung brand.
The Doi Tung Development Project (DTDP) tackles social and environmental problems in the Doi Tung area by eradicating poverty and providing opportunities for the people, using a rural development approach called Sustainable Alternative Livelihood Development (SALD) through job creation, natural preservation, and education.
The DoiTung brand was founded in 1990 as a social enterprise and a means for DTDP to become financially self-sustained since 2000. DoiTung currently has four businesses: Tourism, Handicraft, Horticulture, and Food. All profit goes back to MFLF’s operational costs and social development in the Doi Tung area.
4. Where does the foundation get the funding from?
Initially, DTDP relied on government funding and partnerships with the private sector. In 2000, the project became financially self-sustained through the four business units of DoiTung, covering all operating costs including monthly salary and daily wages. As for our development projects other than DTDP, Project financing came from surplus from the bussiness revenues, governments, donor countries, and CSR programs.
5. What is the difference between the MFLF and other Royal Project Initiatives?
MFLF is considered a royal initiative project—among other thousands in Thailand—since it was founded by the Princess Mother and has followed His Majesty and Her Royal Highness’s development principles. However, MFLF is a separate organization from the Royal Project Foundation in Chiang Mai.
6. Where can I buy DoiTung products?
DoiTung Lifestyle shops carry a variety of products made by ethnic minorities in the Doi Tung area, including handcrafted products such as hand-woven carpets, ceramics, and mulberry paper in forms of apparels, accessories, and home décor. The UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) allows DTDP to use its seal on all DoiTung products, in recognition of the Project's role in providing sustainable alternative livelihoods for societies where drugs used to be grown. You can find the list of DoiTung Lifestyle shops at http://www.doitung.org/lifestyle_our.php.
7. How can I get involved with the Mae Fah Luang Foundation?
You can support our handicraft products by shopping at our shops and cafes.
Alternatively, you can give back to society and contribute to social development through volunteering and CSR programs.
If you would like to learn more about our development principles and adapt them to your work, you’re welcome to join our Living University through study visits and internships at Doi Tung.