A Filipino woman waiting to start a job as a cleaner in Iraq says she would rather risk working in the war-torn country than return to the ill-treatment she says she suffered as a maid in Hong Kong. 'Working as a janitor in Iraq would be better than working as a domestic helper in Hong Kong,' Grace Pedregosa, 36, said. Ms Pedregosa is among 1,800 men and women who have been waiting weeks for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to lift a ban on Filipinos working in Iraq. They had been contracted by British firm Prime Project International for duties at two American-run bases. Ms Pedregosa, who is separated and raising a 14-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl, said yesterday her three-year stint in Hong Kong had left bitter memories. She accused her two Chinese employers in the city of a lack of consideration and understanding. She said both gave her a daily ration of a slice of bread for breakfast and lunch, and noodles or a tiny portion of rice in the evening. She started work in Hong Kong in October 2000 for a couple who made her hand-wash their heavy winter clothes in a bathtub 'because they said taking them to the cleaners was too expensive'. 'I developed backache,' she said. She started with her second employer in November 2002. Initially, the wife told her that caring for their six-month-old girl took precedence over everything else. 'She did not mean what she said,' Ms Pedregosa said. 'She expected me to care for her six-month-old child and two-year-old son while cooking and cleaning at the same time. Wasn't that dangerous?'