Since 2000

Kids Ark was founded in 2000 by Allan and Rita Holm Gustafsson. The idea was born out of their time spent as volunteers at Viengping Children’s Home, a government orphanage in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand.

There they witnessed the plight of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, reduced to poverty and vulnerable to exploitation. Drawing on their joint experience—Rita as a nurse who had worked with the HIV/AIDS service organization Noaks Ark, and Allan as a retired economist—they created Kids Ark Foundation.

They began a Child Sponsorship Program with 53 children from the orphanage. Their objective was to arrange for these children to live with extended family while attending school. Providing children with an opportunity to live with relatives in familiar surroundings instead of in an institution is the hallmark of Kids Ark Foundation.

Over time, Kids Ark broadened the scope of its efforts by establishing House of Hope after-school programs and daycare centers to promote early childhood education. Presently, the foundation operates three Houses of Hope and one daycare center. In combination with child sponsorships, the foundation serves almost 300 children.


Suthee Chivaphongse

Kids Ark – 2017

Suthee Chivaphongse is a qualified Certified Chartered Accountant from the UK and a member of the Thai Institute of Directors. He lived and worked in the UK for over 10 years before returning home to Thailand.

Daorueang Tanoy Maew (Annie)

Kids Ark – 2004

Annie manages the scholarship program and is responsible for the financial and administrative management of Kids Ark Foundation. She worked as a primary school teacher before joining Kids Ark in 2004.

Supaporn Maschakam (Ying)

Sansai House of Hope – 2007

Ying is the assistant leader of the Sansai House of Hope. A high-school graduate, she obtained a diploma as a nurse assistant while working at the House of Hope, thanks to a Kids Ark education allowance for staff. She joined the programme in 2007.


Chanon Samerchua  (Tum)

Program Manager
Kids Ark – 2024

Tum is a Program Manager specializing in a sponsorship and donation initiatives. His background in hospitality and fundraising, particularly his work with refugee and animals in Thailand, demonstrates his commitment to socially conscious projects.


Benjaporn  Phunsup  (Ben)

Sansai House of Hope – 2022

Ben was a staff at  7-Eleven before joining  the Sansai House of Hope. She Stopped work when she had her son and began working with the House of Hope Sansai in August 2022. She loves to be with children.

Deannapa Chaiworng (Tik)

Mae Ai House of Hope – 2015

Tik is a former teacher assistant at an elementary government school and lives in Mea-I district Chiang Mai with her two children. She joined Mae Ai House of Hope in November 2015.

Nitanya Jantawaree (Mint)

Mae Ai House of Hope – 2019

Mint is the cook at the Mae Ai House of Hope. She is a high-school graduate and cooked at a restaurant before joining Kids Ark’s in 2019. She lives with her son in Mea-I district, Chiang Mai.

Patcharee Surinta

Kids Ark Daycare Center

Patcharee Surinta leads the Banhoymonngnai Daycare Center, bringing over 18 years of experience working with children. Her background includes teaching positions throughout Mae Ai district schools. Currently, she’s pursuing further education in Child and Family Development at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University.

Chotika Boonla (Seew)

Robin’s House of Hope – 2021

Sew Boonla (Seew) is a dedicated leader of Robins House of Hope, passionate about improving life for villagers in Mae Ai. She champions women’s and children’s rights, receiving an award for her work. Active in her community, she leads the women’s group and contributes to various projects. Seew is also pursuing higher education at the University at Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya.

Mork Layoi (Nam)

Robin’s House of Hope – 2021

Nam graduated Secondary 3 before she began working with Robins House of Hope. She works in the village and in the rice field. She assists the leader with teaching the children and also helps to cook. She joined the program in 2021.

A Jorngjang

Robin’s House of Hope – 2021

A graduated Primary 6. She has a daughter who is in Primary 3. Before she began working with Robins House of Hope, she worked in the village and the rice field. She joined the program in 2021.

Khajorn Baisukan

Sansai House of Hope – 2010

Khajorn Baisukan is the cook at the Sansai House of Hope. Her food is much appreciated by all the children! She has two daughters and a grandson and she comes from Sansai Chiang Mai. She began working at House of Hope in 2010.


Ms. Rita Holm Gustafsson

Kids Ark – 2000

In her native Sweden, Rita Holm Gustafsson is a registered nurse and nurse educator. She has worked in various fields. Rita spent 25 years teaching about HIV/AIDS policy. She also worked several years in managing positions at NoaksArk Foundation, a service organization for people living with HIV and their relatives. She has worked at a Red Cross center for migrants, refugees and people living with disability. Together with her late husband, Allan Gustafsson, she founded Kids Ark Foundation, Thailand.

Mr. Thomas Westheimer

Kids Ark – 2008

Thomas Westheimer has been a volunteer with Kids Ark since 2008 and a board member since 2015. He helped to start a Kids Ark USA charity in the US and is a former US (Iran 1970-72) and Canadian (1973-76) Peace Corps volunteer. He ran a computer company for 20 years in the United States. He and his wife lived in Thailand from 1973 – 1983 and still see it as their second home. He also volunteers with The Foundation to Encourage the Potential of Disabled Persons and has been a Rotary member for over 24 years.

Mr. Rick Holofcener

Kids Ark – 2021

Rick and the Lillian Holofcener Charitable Foundation has been involved with Kids Ark as a major donor for many years providing support for the Sansai House of Hope. Rick who has been living in Chiang Mai, Thailand since 2005 joined the advisory board in 2021 shortly after his father Lester Cohen passed away replacing Lester’s seat on the Advisory Board. Rick is a serial entrepreneur, but he is mostly retired now. He spends his time as a volunteer for Kids Ark Foundation and pursuing his interests in travel, sports, investments, and coffee shops.

Ms. Jennifer Raley

Kids Ark – 2021

Jennifer Raley lives in Winter Haven, Florida. She has a background in Real Estate and owns and manages rental properties in Florida. Jennifer was introduced to Kids Ark by Willem Peppler (deceased), a longtime friend of Rita and Allan Gustafsson. Jennifer is passionate about Kids Ark Foundation: its mission, the individuals it serves, and those whose skills and energy make it happen.

Mr. Allan Gustafsson


Joint founder of Kids Ark, Allan Gustafsson (1929-2009) started his career in the Swedish Institute of Business Activity, after which he worked as an international executive for the Swedish pulp and paper industry for over 30 years. He subsequently volunteered for the Swedish Red Cross for several years. Allan held an MA from the University of Uppsala. He was the Economic Director of Kids Ark Foundation.


Mr. Suthee Chivaphongse

Kids Ark – 2017

Suthee Chivaphongse is a qualified Certified Chartered Accountant from the UK and a member of the Thai Institute of Directors. He lived and worked in the UK for over 10 years before returning home to Thailand. His role as a senior management in the global manufacturing and oil & gas industry provides him opportunities to travel to many countries around the world. Traveling abroad allows him to see the differences in the culture, standard of living and education between Thailand and those countries. With the aim to close these gaps, he, therefore, decided to join Kids Arks in 2017 as a volunteer.

Ms. Chinarat Nakhasathien

Kids Ark Board – 2005

Ms. Chinarat Nakhasathien, Fon, was elected as Chairperson of the Board of Kids Ark Foundation in 2013. Born in Bangkok she holds a BA degree in Hotel and Tourism Management from Bangkok University and worked in the hotel business in Thailand and the Cayman Islands for six years. She holds a Master of Counseling Psychology. Fon has been a member of the Kids Ark Board since 2005.

Dr. Philip John Parry

Kids Ark Board – 2004

Dr. Parry is a UK and Thai-registered chiropractor working in hospitals in Bangkok and Chiang Mai for the past 20 years. He has an MSc in Chiropractic Pediatrics, a diploma in Child Development Psychology and is currently completing a PhD. Philip has been a board member since 2004.

Ms. Supajee Nilubol

Kids Ark Board – 2007

Khun Supajee Nilubol is the Honorary Consul of Sweden in the North of Thailand. She serves as the advisor to the Ministry of Natural Resources and the National Legislature’s Commissioner for Energy. She holds a Master’s Degree in Economics from Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. She studied finance at Harvard University’s School of Business in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and engineering at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey. She has been a board member since 2007.

Ms. Weena Thanachaisakul

Kids Ark Board – 2007

WeenaThanachaisakul (Goi), is Head of the Department of Art Education at Chiangmai University, Thailand. She holds a Masters degree in Education (Arts Education ) from Chulalongkom University, Bangkok, and a Bachelor degree in Art Education from Khonkaen University, Thailand. She is currently pursuing doctoral studies in curriculum and instructional education at KhonKaen University. She is a widely traveled guest lecturer, and a winner of the 2005 Award, Book Festival for Young People, from The Publishers and Booksellers Association of Thailand, Non-fiction category.

Mrs. Pronsarun Multi

Kids Ark Board – 2012

Mrs. Pornsarun Multi graduated with a master’s degree in Educational Administration. She used to serve as the director of Ban Hauy Poo School under the Office of Basic Education, Ministry of Education and worked with Kids Ark Foundation since 2012. Kids Ark Foundation has helped to promote and develop the quality of education of Ban Hauy Poo School so students have a better quality of life. She is now a pensioner.

Mr. Viroj Lerdrash

Kids Ark Board

Mr. Viroj Lerdrash is a graduate of the Executive Master of Business Administration Program of the National Institute of Development Administration and presently the Managing Director and CEO of Unitrade House Ware Co., Ltd. He has also worked as the Key Account Manager with Hansa Industrial (Thailand) Co., Ltd. and was formerly President NL Stationery & Export Co., Ltd

Ms. Marisa Punnakitti

Kids Ark Board

Marisa is a certified professional in Program Management. She has over 6 years of consultancy and professional experiences across Australia, China, Germany and Southeast Asia. With a background in business consulting, she has worked extensively in a diverse range of business strategy, transformation and program management. Marisa holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from University of Mannheim in Germany and Mahidol University International College.

She has a global interest with a local lens. When not advising corporations, you can find Marisa busy doing voluntary work and traveling around. She has a long association with non-profit organizations and humanitarian work. Prior to joining Kid Ark Foundation Board of Directors, she served as an Amnesty International Human Rights Activist, was nominated as AIESEC Vice President of External Relations, was elected as MUIC Alumni Association Board Member and volunteered with UN Women to arrange the biggest fundraising event – Gala Dinner. The previous gala benefit raised funds to support the critical work of UN Women in stopping oppression and violence towards women. She is most passionate about Gender Equality, Women Rights, Education and Economic Growth.

Mrs. Kanya Somboon

Kids Ark Board

Mrs. Kanya Somboon (PhD.) has been the Director of Ban WanaLuang School and Director of the Pangmaphapittayasan School, both in Mae Hong Son Province. In 2021, Dr. Somboon became Director of the Hong Son Suksa School in the city of Mae Hong Son. She serves on the Board of Directors of Child-Friendly Schools, a UNICEF initiative. Dr. Somboon works with the Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation on management and leadership challenges for their multicultural, multi-religious projects in different countries around the world. She is chairman of the Secondary School Administrator Association of Mae Hong Son, Thailand. She received the Great Teacher Award in 2015 and the Doing Good for Society and Educational Development Award in 2019.



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