Video Volunteers community correspondent Mir Yaseen reports from the pristine heights of Kashmir's Gurez valley. Gurez, located at about 125 kms from Jammu and Kashmir's capital city Srinagar and at a height of 2500 m from sea level, is inhabited by ethnic Dards or Shinas. They speak the Shina language in addition to Kashmiri and Urdu. A population of about 30,000 people scattered within fifteen villages, Gurez's central township area is called Dawar.
While talking to our correspondent, one of the residents of Gurez says that the valley remains cut off from the rest of the country for at least six months as it receives heavy snowfall, sometimes up to 14 foot, during the winter season. This leads to the main passage, the Razdan Pass, getting blocked and residents have to stock up on all essential items for up to six months before the onset of the winter season. For medical emergencies, they rely on traditional medicines or on the neighbourhood clinic 2 kms away.
Traditionally, all Gurez residents make their houses of wood as concrete houses do not last long in the harsh weather. The residents say houses made of wood withstand the cold weather and last longer.
Their traditional occupation is rearing animals like sheep and goats and selling them to markets in Bandipora and Srinagar. Gurez residents feel that the government should take steps to develop tourism in the valley as very few people have employment opportunities here.
In this video of UPS Manwan Awoora school, Kupwara, Kashmir, the community correspondent Pir Azhar shows us that there are nine classes for 250 students, and due to lack of space, the lower primary classes are held outside in the open. Also the school has only 7 teachers.