Speed Sisters


Do you like to drive fast? Spotlight looks at race car drivers from Palestine.

Watch Video


Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Adam Navis.

Voice 2 

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

At age 10, Marah Zahalka took her father’s car. She drove very fast all around her home town! Zahalka is now 20 years old. She is still driving very fast. Zahalka is a member of the only women’s racing team in the Arab world. This team is proving that women can compete with men in car racing. Today’s Spotlight is on the Palestinian car racing team called “The Speed Sisters.”

Voice 2 

The Speed Sisters are a team of eight women. They are from the Palestinian territories of the West Bank. The women are all very different from each other. The oldest is 40 years old and the youngest is only 18. Many of them work full-time, but they have different kinds of jobs. Some are mothers or students. Some of the women follow the Christian religion. Others are Muslims. But all the Speed Sisters have one thing in common: they love to drive race cars.

Voice 1

Car racing is a popular sport around the world. Drivers race cars at very fast speeds around roads or special race tracks. At the highest level of competition the cars go up to 350 miles per hour! Not all car races are this fast but they are all usually dangerous. There are often accidents during car racing. This may be one reason why it is men who traditionally take part in car racing.

Voice 2 

But Suna Aweidah says that driving is for women as well as men. Aweidah is the leader of the Speed Sisters. She has loved cars since she was a little girl. Many people did not support her interest in car racing. But this did not stop Aweidah. She decided to start the Speed Sisters team. She told Voice of America news:

Voice 3 

"My family was not happy for me to start doing this kind of sport. Because they thought: I will race individually. There is no way to know what will happen. It is not safe and it is mainly for men. But now I am adding to this team. This, I think, will encourage more of the girls as a family to come and join the team."

Voice 1 

More young women did join Aweidah. They practice together. Some of them have their own cars. Others have to borrow cars to practice and race in. The Speed Sisters enter races in cities like Jenin, Palestine. This is Marah Zahalka’s home town. Many people gather to watch these races. The marketplace is filled with colourful flags. Orange markers make the shape of a race track. One at a time the cars speed around the track. Sometimes they turn so fast that the rubber on the car wheels burns! People stand along the edges of the track. They cheer loudly.

Voice 2 

Some people still disagree with women driving. But more and more people come to watch the Speed Sisters race. In Jenin, the crowd cheers very loudly for Marah Zahalka. Not all of Zahalka’s family supports her. But her father does. He says in an online video:

Voice 4 

“My brothers and my wife’s brothers and uncles do not talk to us. They have not talked to us since 2009. They said: “How can you let her race with all those boys?” But recently I have noticed more women, girls and old men coming to watch the races. Not like before when Marah was the only one.”

Voice 1 

More women in the region are beginning to race cars. Mona ali Ennab was one of the first Speed Sisters. She tells The National newspaper about the progress that they have made:

Voice 5

"It was a slow process. The men made fun of us at the beginning. But over a two year period we won their respect. Now our fellow male racers are our biggest supporters.”

Voice 2 

The Speed Sisters have struggled for people to accept them as race car drivers. But they also have another struggle. They are all from Palestine. This area has a very complex political history. Palestinians in the West Bank do not have much freedom. They live in an area of great conflict. Guards often stop them at check points. Ennab talks about how race car driving helps in the conflict:

Voice 5 

"When I drive, I understand freedom. As speed racers we get a taste of what it is like to be normal. We are used to being stopped at check points. But on days we have races, we fly through check points. One day, a woman from Palestine will win an international race. I want to show those who occupy us that we will always find a way. Our pride is our strength."

Voice 1 

People around the world are interested in the Speed Sisters story. Filmmakers are even producing a documentary film about the Speed Sisters. In the film, Marah Zahalka said:

Voice 6 

“There is an occupation in my land. But when I am in a race I feel like I am resisting. I hope that all girls could do what I do. Car racing, horse riding, football, volleyball, basketball...these sports are all forms of protest.”

Voice 2 

But even with some success, there are still problems for the Speed Sisters. As women, it has been difficult for them to get help and financial support. Like all race car drivers, the Speed sisters need good training. They also need lots of costly equipment. The Speed Sisters have had SOME support from the Palestinian Motorsport and Motor-cycle Federation. They have also had help from Britain. A British driving teacher named Helen Elstrop gave the women free driving lessons. Elstrop also organized a gift of money from the British consulate in Jerusalem. This money paid for a new race car for the Speed Sisters. They can now take turns driving this car at races.

Voice 1 

The Speed Sisters hope to win more races. They want people to see women in the Arab world differently. And they want to give hope to young girls in Palestine and around the world. As Marah Zahalka explains:

Voice 6 

“I have to let the whole world know there is a girl called Marah Zahalka. She represents Palestine and she has the ability to change things.”

Voice 2 

The writer of this program was Rena Dam. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘Speed Sisters’.

Voice 1 

You can also leave your comments on our website. Or you can email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also find us on Facebook - just search for spotlightradio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

(Get our app for Android or for Apple devices. Let us know how you like it and write a review!)

Question:

Do you know how to drive? Would you want to drive very fast?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
honglinh
said on October 14, 2013

After listening this program, i come back to Youtube to find a video about Speed Sisters. I really wonder about what these girls can do. They really impress me by way that they hope, dream and do all of things to keep their wonderful dream. Thanks Spotlight because of a program that is very great!

Avatar Spotlight
tranthitrangtelcom
said on October 16, 2013

I live in Vietnam. In my country men alsway drive car. Nowadays it is changed, there are more women drive car. I think women drive car make them confident and inatiative. But they don’t control dangerous situation than men.

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on January 29, 2016

Dear Liz Waid, Adam Navis, Rena Dam, and Michio Ozaki:

No, I do not. Yes, I would want to drive. I would want to drive not very fast because it is not necessary to ordinaries drivers driving very fast. For a common drivers should speed only if it is necessary not very fast. Thank you very much to develop this important matter for us learners of English to improve our English Skill. Thanks!
All the best,
Severino Ramos
From Brazil

Avatar Spotlight
Luiz Ferezin
said on January 06, 2019

Yes, I know how to drive. But I’ d rather drive slowly, because it’s more dangerous
In my city there many radars.

Avatar Spotlight
Tuanha
said on January 10, 2019

I have known what written want to say through this article. I heard about Palestine when I was a child.
This region has not yet peaceful due to conflict political. And then, most people are longing peaceful, freedom and women are inside also.
I wish one-day all-region will do not have conflict, violence. The people can do whatever they need.

Avatar Spotlight
kenhieuloilam
said on January 10, 2019

We love beautiful good things in life. We respect truth in life. We love beauties. We love beauty of life. Truth protects life. Beauties adorn life. We will not be able to exist if truth is not respected in life. We feel regret when beauties of life lose away. We love beautiful good things in life. We respect truth in life. We live our lives for beautiful good things. We die for beautiful good things.

Avatar Spotlight
Galina
said on January 11, 2019

First of all, Thank you for interesting program.
- Yes, I can drive, and I love to drive. But I prefer not to drive too fast. I think that driving too fast in normal life is dangerous. And I always get angry when I see a driver driving too fast. They create a dangerous situation on the road for themselves and for other drivers. I think that fast driving is only suitable in sports,  in a special zone or in a special situation.

Avatar Spotlight
RyanNguyen
said on January 13, 2019

All of the people have the authorization for working and doing which they like, as long as this job is not violating the Law. Speed Sister is the special and wonderful team, the team will all women, the team working inside the conflict territory and has existed a few concepts about human rights. I rather respect all the thing they do, they are the representation about power of belief and conation of the human. Hope every great thing will come to them, with all their effort will be demonstrated.
The supporting from Vietnam

Avatar Spotlight
Honneur
said on January 13, 2019

I know how to drive very well. My driving license in Brazil is 60 years old and I never hit my car at any time. I did not hurt anyone. In the early days, I used to drive faster but a long time ago I decided that I would only drive at the local road speed limit. It’s proven to be a smart resolution ...