Tell us a bit about yourself.
I help out with communications and fundraising as a volunteer with EMMS International, helping to raise awareness for the need for maternal care in developing regions. I work part time as an Information Officer at Children in Scotland. I am also a trustee for Kenyan Street Children's charity New Life Nyambene, and and am a volunteer at the anti-slavery charity International Justice Mission. I'm mother to two beautiful little boys, and run the mothers' connect group at Ps and Gs church.
What are you planning to do for this sponsored event for EMMS?
I'm raising funds for EMMS maternal health projects in India so that more babies have a chance of life. I will be doing a sponsored run on Saturday 4th February from my home in Comely Bank to the Royal Infirmary, and back again. I have chosen the hospital as my end point to highlight the issues pregnant women experiencing poverty have accessing medical care.
Have you ever done anything like this before?
No, this is a first for me. The only other time I can recall doing something vaguely similar was when I was 7 years old - I did a sponsored bounce on a bouncy castle. I managed to convince people to sponsor me per bounce, which turned out to be quite a good money-spinner as of course I bounced about like mad!
Why did you decide to organise this event?
Inadequate access to healthcare means that every day in India mothers have to go through the ordeal of their babies dying, often from treatable conditions. From personal experience, I know how a loss like this stays with you all your life. I remember reading about the EMMS Send a Light campaign that focussed on Seema, an Indian woman who had lost six babies because she didn't have access to medical care for their jaundice. One of the very few silver linings of losing a child is that you feel solidarity with women like Seema even when their culture, finances and life chances are so very different from your own.
What difference do you hope to make?
The money raised will help mothers in Madhya Pradesh, one of the poorest states in northern India. Donations will go towards the maternal health programs at the Christian Hospital in Chhatarpur. Thanks to this hospital, hundreds more pregnant women now have antenatal care and medical assistance when they deliver their babies.
What will you use to motivate yourself?
I always find a good soundtrack helps me run that little bit further (though I expect I will need to walk some of the way too!). I enjoy listening to podcasts about global development - like the Overseas Development Institute ones on everything from climate change and gender equality to the impact of Trump's presidency on the sustainable development goals. I expect I will listen to an episode of Desert Island Disks too. And of course where would I be without the pray-as-you-go biblical reflections - I love the diverse worship music they use.
What advice would you give to others who may wish to do their own event in aid of EMMS?
Participating in an organised event like a marathon is a huge achievement, but do also consider whether 'going it alone' is an option for you too. There are lots of advantages to holding your own fundraising event - you can choose a challenge that feels relevant to you as an individual, pick your own goals and set your own pace.
Here is Amy Westendarp's fundraising page. Thanks so much for your support.
You can read more about how EMMS International is supporting maternal and infant health in India here http://www.emms.org/vital-work/projects/chhatarpur-protecting-mothers-babies/