(photo credit: ruth eglash)
The world’s oldest living quadriplegic, Zimbabwean immigrant Rosemary Levin, is in the midst of a legal battle with the Interior Ministry to allow her longtime helper, a Zimbabwean national, to enter Israel to care for her, The Jerusalem Post learned on Wednesday.
According to Levin, 79, who has spent five decades in a wheelchair after breaking her spine in a road accident, two of her three full-time workers have been granted permanent work visas, but due to the demanding nature of the care, Levin must also employ a third helper to act as a relief worker, enabling each of the other two to return home to Africa for a few months a year.
After three years in which the third worker was allowed entry with no problem, “I was informed earlier this year that the work permit for the third worker would not be granted,” said Levin, who spent most of her life living in the African bush with her gold-mining husband and now lives in Zichron Ya’acov.
“They won’t let my third lady come in to work, and unless she comes into the country I can’t let the others leave me.”
She continued: “I am in a peculiar and very difficult situation and although I don’t like to take advantage, I am a very disabled woman who needs constant helpers with me to take care of me.
“I don’t want to be put in a position where I am forced to leave Israel and return to Africa because my care worker cannot come in and help me,” added Levin, who made aliya three years ago after her husband died.
Last September, Levin was recognized as the world’s oldest living quadriplegic by the Guinness Book of World Records after spending the past 50 years in a wheelchair. She was 28 and seven months pregnant with her third child on June 5, 1959, when the car she was traveling in with her family collided with another car.
Although she managed to carry her baby to term, Levin suffered a complete spinal lesion and was left without use of her arms and legs.
“The Interior Ministry keeps asking me why I can’t use one of the thousands of foreign workers already here in Israel; I tell them that I am too old and set in my ways to try new things,” Levin explained. “These three women have been working with me for a long time; they know me and know all my peculiar ways. It’s too late for me to change.”
After appealing to the Interior Ministry to reconsider her case as a
humanitarian gesture, Levin wrote to President Shimon Peres asking if
he could step in. The president’s Department of Public Complaints has
referred Levin’s case to the Interior Ministry office in Hadera.
“I have already visited the office in Hadera and they did not give me an outright no,” said Levin, hopefully.
it could be another two or three months before they decide on my case.
I just hope they decide in my favor, because I would just hate to have
to leave Israel.”
The Interior Ministry did not respond by press time.