Officially, the Fundação Terra appeared judicially on September 8th in 1983, in a human community known as „rubbish street“. It is located around the garbage dump of Arcoverde, a small town in the arid state of Pernambuco in the north-east of Brazil.

In the early days, the local governments always dealt with the problem of waste management in the same way albeit the kind of the garbage. They transported it far away from the town center and let it rot under open sky without any concern to the environment and the people living in it.

The Fundação Terra was founded in this very community to solve the problem of waste disposal. Padre Airton realized the unspeakable situation of the people and named it the biggest misery of the town: There were lots of people, living from hand to mouth on food rests found in the garbage dump, getting by with the few on the street earned coins, depending only on the luck for survival. They „lived“ in houses made of paper, tins or loam, without water and sanitary equipment. In short: excluded from values and advantages of the Christian and western world.

The Fundação Terra was founded to serve the poor in terms of everyday problems like food or clothes and structural problems like the accessibility of a school.