Digicel staff engage thirsty voters
Digicel Samoa staff say they were humbled by the reception they received after dispensing water to more 2,500 thirsty voters who queued up to register to vote last week.
Voters waited up to 17 hours to register at the Office of the Electoral Commission last week in sometimes chaotic scenes that resulted in doors being shattered and crowds shoving and pushing in the heat.
Voter registration closed for the final time at 4pm on Thursday last week at the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa Youth Hall at Mulinu’u.
Digicel’s Marketing Manager, Edith Arp, said the company had witnessed firsthand growing queues the previous day, when crowds were gathered at the S.N.P.F.
Their team made a decision to offer the people water.
Digicel’s main office is located on Level 2 of the Plaza. The telecommunications company also has a shop on Level 1.
The Office of the Electoral Commissioner (O.E.C.) is on Level 3.
On Wednesday, one day before the 8 October voter registration deadline, hundreds of people inundated the Plaza, crowding staircases and walkways to register at the O.E.C. in order to avoid the possibility of a $2,000 fine.
“At first, some people were a bit reluctant as they weren’t sure if the water was really for free but soon after they realized we could see the hands of those desperate to quench their thirst reach out or call out for water,” said Ms. Arp.
“I must say, our team felt very humbled by the appreciation shown for such a small gesture. We feel very blessed to have the opportunity to truly help those in our community. It is something that we will strive to continue to do.”
Ms. Arp said the company took the decision as an opportunity to engage the community.
“Digicel had recently launched our ‘Go Big on Community’ promotion. We saw this as an opportunity for Digicel to engage our community proactively,” Ms. Arp said.
“It was a small gesture but when giving out the water we realized that it was greatly appreciated.”
Water distribution began at the Plaza on Wednesday and continued to the final day of voter registration on Thursday when voter registration moved to the hall at Mulinu’u.
“Over the two days, our team had distributed over 2500 water bottles,” said Ms. Arp.
“Our team here at Digicel had witnessed firsthand the queues that were growing hour by hour and had learned that the wait time for some was up to 10 hours. On Thursday the wait time for some grew to 14 hours.
“We instantly felt the need to help as we realized that people weren’t able to leave the queue for fear of losing their place, so for so many that meant not being able to have access to drinking water to stay hydrated.”