Many people assume that Anice Bernard Kruger is a strong woman.
After all, it takes strength to overcome the trauma of seeing your two-year-old girl horrifically burnt…and then strength to rebuild her body and her life, as well as your own.
But Kruger doesn’t see it that way. She said her daughter, Pippie, is the strong one.
Pippie is 10 and it’s been nine years since most people thought she would die from the devastating burns to 80% of her body she suffered when flammable gel ignited and poured over her on New Year’s Eve in 2011.
Kruger said it felt weird when people told her she was strong.
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“It’s Pippie, it’s always Pippie. What she said 10 years ago if mommy doesn’t have any strength left she can get some of mine. That’s my motto in life,” she said.
“What has kept me strong? Funny enough, Pippie has kept me strong.
“Pippie has maybe one bad day in six months. She wakes up happy in the morning and goes to bed happy at night.”
That strength has seen mother and daughter through endless plastic surgery operations and rehabilitation sessions.
“Ten years ago, I didn’t think I would be where I am right now, but I will redo everything if I have to,” said Kruger.
Burn survivor Pippie Kruger is always in a good mood, says her mom. Pictures: Supplied
Although she doesn’t want to change the past, Kruger said the past 10 years have been more like an adventure.
“It had its ups and downs and new things and bad things. But despite that, 90% of it has been beautiful and positive.”
Her life has been enriched.
“Pippie is recovering at her own pace. A lot of the things that happened I blocked them out. I’m not even going to lie about that.
“The lockdown has been a resting period for her. In the past, I pushed her with therapy but she got tired.”
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Kruger added that Pippie was getting big now, turning 11 years old, and even started growing breasts after the doctor told her she would never be able to due to the skin damage.
“She has also now started using her hands and trying to pick up things. She has also started pushing herself up,” she said proudly.
Kruger and her daughter are in Pretoria this week for a series of doctor’s visits and to attend a special award ceremony where Pippie and her mom were honoured as beacons of hope.
Solidarity Helping Hand honoured mother and daughter, as hope bearers for society.
René Roux, Helping Hand’s deputy head of communications, said: “Helping Hand doesn’t build a business; we build a family. It is important for Helping Hand to look after the holistic well-being of people.
“Pippie and her mother are epitomising emotional and spiritual strength and are beacons of hope. Today we are here to honour them,” she said.
Roux presented Kruger with a FroueVonds honorary award.
FroueVonds (intentionally misspelled in Afrikaans to stress that everything does not always turn out right) was founded in 2019 within Helping Hand and has since handed over awards to strong women who are pillars of hope in their communities.
But for Kruger, there is a bigger force around what she and Pippie have been through. And that’s faith.
“Even if I fight with God sometimes, it’s always my faith that keeps me going. I can’t do this without God,” she said.
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