On a recent Friday afternoon, the first Afghan mosque in New York was sad. A group of children listened intently as the leader of the group talked about hope.

The children had to leave on their own during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. They left behind their parents. Some of them left behind their mothers and siblings when their fathers died in the war. As the Taliban seized the capital in August, 1,400 of the 83,000 Afghans were under the age of 18.

The evacuees were taken to the U.S. government. They were referred to the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement, which took them to eight military installations across the country. Many adults and families remain temporarily housed there.

Tens of thousands of Afghans who fought the Taliban are now Marooned in America.

Some 1,300 children have been placed in foster care or with sponsors after being separated from their families. The children were visiting a mosque and living in a shelter. They were 13 boys and a girl. They came to the Dar al Taqwa Islamic Center from the Passage of Hope program in New York.

In the U.S., unaccompanied minor are usually from Central America, and enter at the border with Mexico, often in numbers that challenge the immigration apparatus. Almost all of the 122,000 children who arrived in the U.S. in the federal fiscal year of 2021, were from the Latin American countries that have been at the center of the immigration debate for decades.

The Afghan children were in the system to accommodate the influx. If their arrival offers a new perspective on the experience of children arriving without adults, the young Afghans will carry their own traumas.

That brought them to the mosque. The common culture that we have here is similar to one they had back home, according to the Imam.

The courtyard leads to red-and-cream brick buildings, and the way to the prayer hall is framed by rows of shoes on wooden shelves. They were calm and relaxed.

When his family fled Afghanistan in 1983, Nasim was 11. He understood the lives of the children in a war zone because he was the only Passage of Hope volunteer who spoke Pashto.

He feels sad when he sees his children in them. He says the kids had no idea where they were going when they boarded the flights. All they knew was that they were American planes. Come on in, there is no seat. They are standing, they are sitting, whatever. Just like that.

The Passage of Hope is part of a private social services organization that started as an orphanage in the 19th century. It gives access to therapy and medical treatment. The staff at the shelter offers lessons in American culture and English, as well as working to find a foster care placement for the children, which the shelter is not. On the way back from the mosque, one might say "Uncle, we're going to jail again" and the kids would be reminded. He understands the complaint.

I have 100 Afghan parents on my phone. He says he will have 100 boxes of food and clothes by tomorrow.

Inside a Wisconsin Army Base, nearly 13,000 Afghans are waiting for an uncertain future.

The resources of the community have not always been put to use immediately. The shelter had no staff who spoke Afghan. Sometimes a supervisor would call Nasim to make sure the kids were okay. One child was so frightened of the paramedics that he had to be calmed down by Nasim. The boy was scared that the medical staff would harm him if they took him away. Shelters in other cities have generated troubling reports of Afghan children harming themselves or others.

The psychological impact of these children is extreme and they remain in fight-or-flight mode, even months later, here in the United States.

The system is still catching up after the Taliban victory, as the Afghans arrived on short notice. In January, the Office for Refugee Resettlement provided full-time translators to the shelter. Fatima was alarmed that the children had been there for three months and yet so much was geared for Latin American clients. It's funny in a way.

One girl had asked for a book from Mrs. Obama, and on her next visit, she arrived with her book. Shahira Asadi Popal, who founded the New Jersey-based Afghan American Academy, helped her take the children on trips to museums and parks. They cooked Afghan food at the shelter and broke their fasts there. I wish all shelters could do this.

Do they not know how many Afghans live here? When the children first arrived, Nasim and his brother distributed fliers. There is a community that cares about them and understands them.

The mosque has more than one community. The Afghan community in Queens had a permanent Islamic center that was the heart of the man who arrived in 1985 with his wife and son. The Afghan war was against the Soviet Union, and with millions of Afghans fleeing to neighboring Pakistan and Iran, he was sure people would start coming. The imam thought he would be able to return to his homeland after 10 or 20 years. A 1,000-strong congregation has been in attendance for more than 30 years.

The Taliban had been overthrown by the US. After two decades, Afghans were surprised by the American departure and the mosque's phone rings all the time. The country code of his homeland is 93. How will we survive? He says that we are not safe.

According to Human Rights Watch, more than half of the population of Afghanistan experiences depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress. The children at the shelter have placed anonymous letters to the staff about the issues they are facing in a special box outside their bedrooms. The facility's staff often contacted Nasim to translate their notes.

He said that he had to send a note to someone who said that one of the boys was crying at night. When Nasim talked to the boy, he realized he was lonely.

He said no when I asked if he wanted to go back to Afghanistan.

We can be reached at letters@time.com.