Valter came from a family of 11 siblings from a rural area. His parents were not literate and had rural occupations, living in modest circumstances, but they did value education and helped him with equipment for school. As there was no school in his community, Valter had to leave home at seven years old to go study in the city, often going hungry. However, he was determined to become a teacher and now sees the sacrifices he made as worthwhile. Today, his three children live in a comfortable home and he has been a teacher for 21 years. He continues to teach as a way to fight his students’ poverty along with the difficult and occasionally violent environment they live in. He has managed the Luiz Gonzaga public school for nine years and counts his present colleagues among his former students. Many others have gone on to university and master’s degrees.
Valter has also helped the Santo Antônio do Rio Tracajá community to become the first ecological community in the Amazon working with human waste, where his Clean Water Project brought decent living conditions to the people. Due to his teaching practice, his school won the Top Brazilian Educator award in 2015, a highly contested award in the country. His work was published in a number of newspapers, both print and online, and the city council from his town presented him with the Raimundo Almada medal, the highest honour a resident of his area can receive. He has a number of proposals for uses of the prize money, such as a nursery of plants, a children’s park, a cultural centre, a vocational school and an expansion of the Clean Water Project.