CUCUTA, Colombia - Venezuela's currency is now in freefall, and some estimate the inflation rate there is over ten million percent and climbing. A month's wages in Venezuela now equals about $4.00, not nearly enough to live on. So how are Venezuelans making it?
Imagine if your paycheck got cut by 90% every three to six months. That's the world Venezuelans have been living in since hyperinflation took hold in their country in 2016. The Venezuelan Bolivar is now the least valued currency in the world with the black market exchange rate off the charts - over four million bolivars to the dollar and sinking fast - and that means starving Venezuelans have to do whatever they can to survive.
CBN News spoke with native Venezuelan Roberto Sanchez and asked him if he had any Venezuelan money that he could show us. And so he ran off for a second and he came back and brought us this stack of bills -- this stack of money and handed it to us and said: "Take it." The real scary question is: How do people survive when you can have all the money in the world and it literally won't buy you a thing?"
"Unfortunately, the people who cross this bridge aren't just looking for food and medicine. They are searching for hope," Jose Jaime Ayala, a human rights worker told CBN News.
Ayala works helping sick Venezuelans get care in Colombia because the medical care in his country is almost non-existent. His wife Esperanza works with him.
"We see children sleeping in the streets. There is just so much need. People are in distress because there is no medicine at all, so we try to help get their needs met," Esperanza said.
This is the illegal way to get items across from Venezuela into Colombia. A group of men is bringing products either into Colombia to sell or back into Venezuela, things that aren't available there. Things like tires, medicines. Coming across from Venezuela, we're seeing a lot of scrap metal that they sell over on the Colombian side. We see things like copper wire because people are ripping the wire out of the walls and wrapping them up and bringing them over here to sell just to get enough money to eat.
Leonel Castillo and his wife work with their church to help the poorest migrants coming to Colombia.
"The wealthiest Venezuelans have already escaped to Spain or Miami, the middle class is going to Ecuador or Chile. But the poorest are coming to Cucuta," Castillo explained.
CBN News took a walk in downtown Cucuta late at night and there were hundreds of women selling the only thing they had to sell -- their bodies. Three teenage girls we met have been working on the street for the past year, starting before two of them were even 18. They say it's terrible but better than starving.
"It's bad," one girl said. "Because we're always getting guys who are drunk, and sometimes they abuse us. We come out here every night, but sometimes don't get any business because there are so many women out here."
"This isn't life. But what can we do when there is no future," another girl said.
It's amazing how many similarities we've noticed between what's going on in Venezuela and what we were seeing in Syria. Now the stuff in Syria was definitely worse, but it's similar in some ways in that -- just the level of desperation. You have people that have literally just run out of options. And one of the best ways you could illustrate that is by meeting prostitutes who are actually mothers with families and husbands but they are coming over here to Cucuta and selling their bodies for just a little bit of money in order to make enough money to survive. And so before you go judging, you might ask yourself -- just how far would you go to make sure that your children could eat at night?
Castillo and his family are doing what they can to help some of these girls out of this life, and give them hope, and a future.
"It's sad, yes, but it's an opportunity for God to manifest himself in the works of his people. And we know that their most basic needs are spiritual. What they need is Jesus," he said.